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Miami Republican proposes bill to curb Cuba travel

Miami Republican proposes bill to curb Cuba travel
BY PATRICIA MAZZEI PMAZZEI@MIAMIHERALD.COM
04/28/2015 7:09 PM 04/28/2015 7:26 PM

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Congressional Republicans, led by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami,
filed legislation Tuesday that would limit new travel to Cuba, an
attempt to block part of President Barack Obama’s more open policy
toward the island’s Communist regime.

The proposed measure would ban new flights and cruises to Cuba. It was
tucked into a wide-ranging budget bill drafted by Diaz-Balart, who
chairs the House subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban
development appropriations.

Funding to facilitate travel to Cuba would be prohibited if the
airplanes or ships pass through any property confiscated by the Cuban
government, which effectively rules out landing or docking at any
airport or seaport.

In a statement, Diaz-Balart decried newly permissible trips to Cuba
“that include snorkeling, cigar factory tours, salsa dancing lessons,
and other obvious tourist activities.”

“Under these circumstances, Congress cannot remain idle,” said
Diaz-Balart, who is Cuban American. “The expansion of regularly
scheduled flights to Cuba is an obvious attempt to circumvent the
tourism ban. Similarly, allowing cruises to dock in Cuba would violate
both the spirit and the letter of U.S. law.”

The massive $55 billion budget bill was announced Tuesday with a news
release that made no mention of the Cuba provision.

Another group of lawmakers has filed legislation to repeal all travel
restrictions to the island.

The provision is sure to spark controversy and a veto threat from the
White House. It also faces votes in the Appropriations Committee and in
the House, where there is significant sentiment, even among some GOP
conservatives, to ease the five-decade-plus Cuba trade embargo and
travel restrictions to the island.

The embargo and travel restrictions, however, have not moved the Castro
government toward democracy.

Agriculture organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other
business interests have expressed support for the administration’s
outreach to Cuba.

The administration rules lifted a requirement that U.S. travelers obtain
a license from the Treasury Department before traveling to Cuba.
Instead, all that is required is for travelers to assert that their trip
would serve educational, religious or other permitted purposes.

Cuban-American Republicans from the Miami area opposed to the Castro
regime have had an outsized influence on the government’s Cuba policy
since the 1980 mass emigration.

Obama took steps earlier this month to remove Cuba from the list of
state sponsors of terrorism, another step toward normalizing relations.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Source: Miami Republican proposes bill to curb Cuba travel | Miami
Herald Miami Herald –
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article19831947.html

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