WASHINGTON -- Attending the U.S. Embassy opening in Havana, Cuba on Friday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the last stage in fully cracking open diplomacy between the two countries is passing her bill to lift the Cuban trade embargo.
"It's not a matter of it will pass, it's a matter of when," Klobuchar said, in an interview Saturday. "The idea that everyone wants to travel to Cuba and we're the only country in the world that can't sell things ... When our tourists stay over there, stay in hotels and eating their food, we would like American businesses to be able to do business there."
Klobuchar said Saturday she met with a few dissidents at the embassy reception Friday -- something that would not have happened even six months ago because the Castro regime didn't want Americans meeting with dissidents on Cuban soil. She said they continue to be concerned with the way the Cuban government treats citizens and they would like more open access to the Internet.
"Most people think there is a long way to go with the Cuban government," Klobuchar said. "They released (U.S. citizen) Alan Gross, but there is still progress to be made."
Klobuchar and Flake's bill currently has 21 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and Klobuchar said she's heard from "dozens" more senators that they would support it, if brought to the floor. If passed, the bill would allow the U.S. and Cuba to trade again and would also eliminate legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba.
Republican Rep. Tom Emmer is leading a Republican effort in the House on a measure to lift the Cuban embargo, though his bans any American financing -- including money from the now-expired, government-backed Export Import Bank.