WASHINGTON – Rep. Tom Emmer is leading the Republican effort in the House to lift the Cuba trade embargo — a move that ups the odds of passage in the GOP-controlled chamber.
A couple of House Democrats already have introduced lifting the Cuba embargo legislation, but those proposals are bedecked with other requirements, including adding direct mail to Cuba and lifting all travel restrictions. The details of those other bills, sponsored by most of Minnesota’s Democrats, make the legislation less palatable to Republicans.
Emmer’s bill, introduced Tuesday with a Florida Democrat, is cleaner. It simply removes provisions restricting trade with Cuba and prohibits American assistance and financing — including money from the now-expired, government-backed Ex-Im Bank.
Emmer, a first-term congressman, joins Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the effort. Klobuchar added a bill in February to lift the trade embargo that now has 21 cosponsors, including several Republicans.
In a statement Tuesday Emmer said, “Along with the Cuban people, Americans are ready for a fresh start and new opportunities for increasing trade, advancing the cause of human rights and ushering in direly needed reforms.”
His measure builds on a blossoming set of historic steps taken by the Obama administration to normalize relations with the island just 90 miles south of Florida.
In December, President Obama took executive action to open business, trade and travel relationships. The administration is also working on warming diplomatic relations, including opening embassies and travel.
Even with these executive actions, though, Congress must vote to lift trade embargoes.