Latest Senate Committee Vote Builds on Momentum to Lift Cuba Travel Ban, USA*Engage Says

Thursday, 6 November 2003

"The wave of legislation passed over the past few weeks to end the Cuba travel ban is impressive and gives the clearest signal yet that the momentum is there for lawmakers to end this 40-year ban," said Bill Reinsch, Co-Chairman of USA*Engage and President of the National Foreign Trade Council. "Today's Senate mark-up comes on the heels of both House and Senate appropriations amendment victories on the issue. Time after time this session, Members of Congress have voted emphatically - that the Cuba travel ban is a dated policy that must go."

Senators voting for lifting the ban were: Committee Chairman Dick Lugar (R-IN), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Mike Enzi (R-WY), George Voinovich (R-OH), John Sununu (R-NH), Joe Biden (D-DE), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), John Kerry (D-MA), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

In September of this year, House members passed the Flake amendment to the House Treasury-Transportation Appropriations bill to de-fund enforcement of the ban. One month later, the Senate followed with an identical measure to the bill, the Dorgan/Craig amendment. The bill is currently in conference.

Allowing Americans the freedom to travel to Cuba will have dramatic and positive effects on U.S. efforts to bring freedom and democracy to the people of Cuba. A policy of engagement with that country will go further toward providing rights for Cubans than the 40-year failed policy of isolation ever has.

"The drumbeat of legislation to lift the ban indicates a renewed commitment to give back Americans their basic right to travel and to give the Cuban people hope," said Reinsch. "We encourage the conference committee to respect the clear majority will of Congress and retain the Craig/Dorgan language in the final Treasury-Transportation Appropriation bill, and we urge lawmakers to continue pressing the issue just as their Senate colleagues did today until the ban is completely lifted."

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of over 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at www.usaengage.org.