How the House spending bill could prove a lump of coal for Cuban-Americans' holidays
A provision into the omnibus spending bill being negotiated in Congress this week could present a terrible quandary for thousands of Cuban-Americans, warns guest blogger Anya Landau French.
If Republican leaders in the House get their way in omnibus spending bill negotiations this week, hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans now accustomed to a freedom few other Americans enjoy – the right to travel to Cuba without US government intervention – could lose it. A provision House leaders are pushing in final round negotiations this week would subject hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans to a Bush administration rule allowing them just one visit home every three years, no exceptions. The measure, championed by a Cuban-American, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) of Florida, is one of just a few controversial riders still to be worked out in order to advance legislation this week to fund numerous government agencies.Skip to next paragraph
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President Barack Obama confidently campaigned on lifting family travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans back in 2008. He delivered on that promise, and judging by the numbers of travelers, it was a politically popular move. So when House appropriators originally adopted Mr. Diaz-Balart’s provision last summer, White House advisors threatened, in a formal Statement of Administration Policy, to recommend a veto if the final bill contained changes to the president’s Cuba policy.
IN PICTURES: Cuba's economy
That should have been the end of it – as it routinely was whenever the Bush administration threatened to veto easing the Cuba travel rules, something the then-Republican Congress voted to do repeatedly. It then fell to Republican congressional leaders to spare the president from actually vetoing a major spending bill over such a small – indeed, parochial – issue. But while President Bush could then count on GOP leaders controlling both chambers, the Democrats only control the Senate.