House Committee Votes to End Cuba Travel Ban

Unbelievable Experiences of an African American World Traveler
Travel to Cuba, restricted for decades, may be getting a boost in the near future. The House Agriculture Committee voted on Wednesday to reverse a ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba and to ease trade restrictions with the country.
The bill was approved 25 to 20 with solid support from Democrats, but only four Republicans supporting the bill.
The vote is the first step in the long journey toward Congressional approval, but supporters are optimistic that it will lead to an end of the decades-long ban on travel between the two countries.
The bill, called the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, would also allow American goods to be sold directly to Cuba, which would be a boon to American businesses and farming groups. Unsurprisingly, the bill is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Farmers Union.
Though proponents of the bill are touting the positive economic effects of eased trade restriction, opponents are critical of the bill’s provisions that open Cuba to tourism. Opponents argue that lifting the ban would only place tourism dollars in the hands of the country’s Communist regime.

Proponents, however, counter that the financial gains for every day Cubans would be even greater than the benefits to the Cuban government. Revenues from the tourism industry would bring money to the impoverished populace and spread democracy, proponents say.
The bill still needs to travel the Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committees before it reaches the House and then the Senate floor.
Wednesday’s vote was one of several attempts in to ease travel restrictions to Cuba in the last decade. During the Bush administration, bills in both the House and the Senate attempted to ease travel bans, but were threatened by presidential veto.
In April of last year, however, the Obama administration was successful in passing a bill that allowed Cuban-Americans to visit family in Cuba without time restrictions.


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