House members form Cuba Working Group |

House members form Cuba Working Group

On the anniversary of the announcements by the U.S. and Cuban governments that they would re-establish diplomatic relations, the White House today released a fact sheeting summarizing the engagement with Cuba in the past year while 12 House members announced that they would establish a bipartisan Cuba Working Group.

Meanwhile John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, said in a report that President Barack Obama should visit Cuba during his last year in office.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Cuba Working Group said it will work toward “a new more programatic approach to Cuba.”

“Our goal is to raise the level of understanding inside of Congress for the need to build a new policy framework for U.S.-Cuban relations,” the letter said.

Serving on the Cuba Working Group steering committee are:

▪ Rep. Kevin Cramer R-N.D.

▪ Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark.

▪ Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn.

▪ Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis.

▪ Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.

▪ Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

▪ Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.

▪ Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.

▪ Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas

▪ Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

▪ Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.

▪ Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y.

“The establishment of a bipartisan Cuba working group in this Congress is a game-changer,” said Marc Hanson, senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). “The House Cuba working group will be instrumental in translating the overwhelming public support for ending the embargo on Cuba into legislative initiatives that can pass in Congress.”

Members of the Cuba Working Group are supporters of one or more key pieces of legislation introduced in 2015, with Republicans as the lead sponsors, WOLA noted.

The group said that the bills together would repeal economic and travel restrictions and effectively eliminate the U.S. embargo on Cuba:

▪ The Cuba Trade Act of 2015 would allow U.S. businesses to trade with Cuba without restrictions;

▪ The Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act (Cuba DATA Act) would allow U.S. telecommunications and internet companies to provide services to Cuba;

▪ The Cuba Agriculture Exports Act would allow for U.S. investment in privately owned Cuban agriculture businesses;

▪ The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015 would allow all U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba.

–The Hagstrom Report