Update on July 11, 2016: On July 7, 2016, the House approved the FY 2017 FSGG Bill, which included the two positive Cuba amendments related to agricultural financing and travel.
On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the U.S. House Committee on Rules decided that two positive Cuba amendments of the FY 2017 Financial Services & General Government Appropriations (FSGG) Bill will be ruled in order and given a vote on the House floor. The two amendments, offered by Representative Rick Crawford and Representative Mark Sanford respectively, would:
• Allow for private credit for agricultural exports to Cuba.
• End the ban on travel to Cuba.
These two amendments build on action already taken in the U.S. Senate last week.
Despite recent developments in US-Cuban relations, the removal of U.S. sanctions on Cuba depends on legislative action that further facilitates US engagement of Cuba. The amendments on Cuba would expand on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s actions taken on January 2016.
In January, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew stated that the amendments to the Regulations assist the U.S.’s mission to, “enable the free flow of information between Cubans and Americans.” Furthermore, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker stated:
“These regulatory changes will also facilitate exports that will help strengthen civil society in Cuba and enhance communications to, from and among the Cuban people.”
To further normalize U.S.-Cuban relations, Congress must act. These amendments would increase U.S. exports to Cuba and expand travel, which facilitate increased communication. The U.S. House Committee on Rules was correct in deciding to include the two amendments as part of the House floor’s agenda for this evening, and Members should vote in favor of them. Without the support of the U.S. Congress, U.S.-Cuban relations and the removal of U.S. sanction on Cuba will not move forward, risking the U.S.’s opportunity to continue growing as a leader. America is at its best when it is engaging, rather than punishing, exporting our culture through direct relationships.