Update on Proposed U.S. Legislation Supporting U.S.-Cuba Reconciliation

There are 13 pending measures in this Session of Congress that are supportive of U.S.-Cuba reconciliation, but as of May 25th no substantive action has been taken on any of these measures. Details on these measures can be found on the Library of Congress THOMAS service.

 Ending the Embargo.

There is one Senate bill to end the U.S. embargo of Cuba: S.491 “Freedom to Export to Cuba Act of 2015” authored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (Dem., MN) with 10 cosponsors, it was assigned to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. A prior post discussed this bill and erroneously stated that it also was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The House has three similar bills: H.R.274 “United States-Cuba Normalization Act of 2015” authored by Rep. Bobby Rush (Dem., IL) with no cosponsors; H.R.403 “Free Trade with Cuba Act” authored by Rep. Charles Rangel (Dem., NY) with 28 cosponsors; and H.R.735 “Cuba Reconciliation Act” authored by Rep. Jose Serrano (Dem., NY) with 12 cosponsors. All of them were referred to the following seven House committees: Foreign Affairs; Ways and Means; Energy and Commerce; Judiciary; Financial Services; Oversight and Government Reform; and Agriculture. A prior post discussed the first two of these bills.

 Expanding Certain U.S. Trade with Cuba.

Perhaps in recognition of the current political difficulty of passing legislation for a complete end to the U.S. embargo of Cuba, there are pending bills to expand certain U.S. trade with Cuba: exports of U.S. agricultural, medical products, consumer communication devices and telecommunications services and imports of the services of Cuban baseball players.

S.1049 “Agricultural Export Expansion Act of 2015” is authored by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (Dem., ND) with 9 cosponsors. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Unrelated to this bill was an April 21st hearing on expanding U.S. agricultural trade with Cuba before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

The House has a similar and broader bill: H.R.635 “Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2015” authored by Rep. Charles Rangel (Dem., NY) with 27 cosponsors. It was referred to the following five House committees: Foreign Affairs; Ways and Means; Judiciary; Agriculture; and Financial Services; and the Judiciary Committee in turn referred it to its Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

S.1389 “A bill to authorize exportation of consumer communication devices to Cuba and the provision of telecommunications services to Cuba, and for other purposes” authored by Senator Jeff Flake (Rep., AZ) with 5 cosponsors. It was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

H.R.736 “Baseball Diplomacy Act” authored by Rep. Jose Serrano (Dem., NY) with 14 cosponsors. It would facilitate the hiring of Cuban professional baseball players by U.S. teams. It was assigned to the House committees on Foreign Affairs and on the Judiciary, and the latter in turn referred it to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

 Expanding U.S. Travel to Cuba.

The Senate has S.299 “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015” authored by Senator Jeff Flake (Rep., AZ) with 36 cosponsors. It was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The House has two similar bills: H.R.634 “Export Freedom to Cuba Act of 2015” authored by Rep. Charles Rangel (Dem., NY) with 27 cosponsors; and H.R.664 “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015” authored by Rep. Mark Sanford (Rep., SC) with 29 cosponsors. Both of them were referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which in turn referred them to its Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

 Abolition of Radio MARTI and Television MARTI.

 The House has a bill on this topic: H.R.570 “Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money on Cuba Broadcasting Act” authored by Rep. Betty McCollum (Dem., MN) with 4 cosponsors. It was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Commending Pope Francis for Assisting U.S.-Cuba Reconciliation

Senator Richard Durbin (Dem., IL) with 11 cosponsors introduced S.Res.26 “A resolution commending Pope Francis for his leadership in helping to secure the release of Alan Gross and for working with the Governments of the United States and Cuba to achieve a more positive relationship.” It was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Conclusion

U.S. Citizens who support President Obama’s courageous decision to seek reconciliation with Cuba should contact their Senators and Representatives in Congress to urge them to support the above measures, especially those to end the embargo and expand travel.

A subsequent post will examine pending measures in this Session of Congress that oppose or interfere with such reconciliation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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