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How Congress is trying to block Obama's shift in Cuba policy

A House appropriations bill proposed Tuesday would curb funding for a US embassy in Cuba and a Cuban embassy in the United States to slow the restoration of diplomatic ties between the nations.

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    This coastal view of Havana, Cuba shows the United States Interests Section diplomatic mission, the third tall building from the right, on Sunday, May 24, 2015. On Friday, the Obama administration formally removed Cuba from a U.S. terrorism blacklist as part of the process of normalizing relations between the Cold War foes.
    Desmond Boylan/AP
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A proposed US House of Representatives appropriations bill released on Tuesday would prohibit funds for an American embassy or other diplomatic facility in Cuba beyond what existed before President Barack Obama's December announcement that he would move to normalize relations with Havana.

The measure also would restrict funds to facilitate the opening of a Cuban embassy in the United States, increase democracy assistance and international broadcasting to Cuba and provide direction to the State Department on denying visas to members of the Cuban military and Communist Party.

Some members of Congress, led mostly by Republican Cuban-American lawmakers, have objected to the US shift in Cuba policy. They want Cuba's government to do more to improve human rights on the island, release US fugitives living in Cuba and allow free elections before easing restrictions on trade, travel and diplomatic relations.

They have pledged to use bills such as appropriations legislation to try to block the initiative by Obama, a Democrat.

"I think we have been very clear with our challenges with what's gone on in Cuba, from human rights, from what's happened there, and we have a difference of opinion with the administration and we have a right to express it," Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House Majority Leader, said at a news conference.

The United States formally dropped Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism last Friday, an important step toward restoring diplomatic ties but one that will have a limited effect on removing US sanctions on the Communist-ruled island.

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