Flake, Leahy Reintroduce Bill Restoring Freedom to Travel to Cuba

Lead bipartisan coalition of 55 Senators to end failed policy of isolation

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Patrick Leahy today introduced the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017. The bill, which is cosponsored by 53 of their Senate colleagues, would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents.

Specifically, the bipartisan legislation ends restrictions under laws enacted in 1996 and 2000 that prevent American citizens and legal residents from travelling to Cuba – restrictions that do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world. The bill would also end legal prohibitions on travel-related transactions, including banking transactions. 

“Recognizing the inherent right of Americans to travel to Cuba isn’t a concession to dictators, it is an expression of freedom. It is Americans who are penalized by our travel ban, not the Cuban government,” said Flake. “Lifting the ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba can pave the way to meaningful change by increasing contact between Cubans and everyday Americans, and it is certain to have positive benefits for the island’s burgeoning entrepreneurial and private sector.”

“A bipartisan majority of the Senate agrees that the federal government should not be telling Americans where they can or cannot travel, especially to a tiny country just 90 miles from Florida.  The restrictions in law that our bill would strike down are a failed vestige of the Cold War.  The travel ban is neither justified nor in our national security or economic interests.  If we don’t engage, China and Russia will – in fact they already are.  While this bill doesn’t lift the embargo, it at least would restore to Americans the freedom to travel they are entitled to,” said Leahy.  

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