Is Congress Rethinking the U.S. Embargo of Cuba?

An August 3 New York Times editorial asserts that the U.S. Congress is rethinking the wisdom of the U.S. embargo of Cuba. Why does the Times come to this conclusion? Is it justified?

I wish it were so, but I think it is too soon to say that the Congress is changing its opinion on the embargo.

The only relevant asserted basis in the editorial is the recent introduction in the House of Representatives by a Republican, Tom Emmer of Minnesota, of a bill to end the embargo (H.R.3238). (This bill was covered in a recent post.)

Yes, this bill and its companion (S.1543) in the Senate by Republican Senator Jerry Moran are important in light of Republicans current control of Congress. But as of yesterday the House has taken no action on the Emmer bill (H.R.3238) or on the three earlier bills to end the embargo that had been offered by Democrats (H.R.274, H.R.403 and H.R.735). The same is true in the Senate on Moran’s bill (S.1543) and on the bill to end the embargo introduced earlier by Minnesota’s Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar (S.491).

The other basis for the editorial’s conclusion was an action of a Senate Committee on a different, but related, subject: ending the ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba. Yes, this is a hopeful sign, but insufficient to say the Congress as a whole is rethinking these issues.

The editorial also cites increasing public support for ending the embargo and other measures to promote normalization of U.S. relations with the island. But that public opinion has not yet been translated into action by the Congress.

Another fact mentioned by the editorial was the forceful call for ending the embargo that recently was uttered by Democratic presidential contender, Hillary Clinton. But as the Times also pointed out, Republican presidential hopefuls, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, immediately expressed their disagreement on this issue.

U.S. citizens need to continue to press their Senators and Representatives to embrace normalization, including ending the embargo.


[1] Campo-Flores & Meckler, Hillary Clinton Calls for End to Cuba Trade Embargo, W.S.J. (July 31, 2015); Gearan, Clinton says GOP is clinging to the past on Cuba, Wash. Post (July 31, 2015); Vasquez & Luna, Hillary Clinton in Miami: Lift the embargo against Cuba, Miami Herald (July 31, 2015)


















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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.

2 thoughts on “Is Congress Rethinking the U.S. Embargo of Cuba?”

  1. Your analysis is correct Duane. The blocking force in Congress is the political money foisted upon ignorant politicians by the anti-normalization/pro-embargo side. The easiest thing to get a check for your campaign on Capitol Hill is to say you are for human rights in Cuba and support the embargo. That is the problem. Plus you have a cadre of pro-embargo Cuban American politicians who have the tools, ie seniority and committee posturing to gum up the works in the House, and filibuster and holds in the Senate. I believe the threshold moment will occur when one of these politicians is finally defeated for re-election or loses an election and the intransigence of their position is a key factor. Then Capitol Hill will finally say, we’re done with this Cuba issue – not worth losing a seat over. End the embargo, time to move on….

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