07.25.19

Leahy To Introduce Bill To Restore Americans’ Freedom To Travel To Cuba

. . . Heads a bipartisan coalition of 46 senators to end failed policy of isolation

(THURSDAY, July 25, 2019) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined by 45 Senate cosponsors, on Monday, July 29th, will introduce the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2019.  The bill would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents.  Identical legislation is being introduced today in the House by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Tom Emmer (R-Minn.).

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 except North Korea.  The bill would also end prohibitions on travel-related transactions, including banking transactions. 

Leahy said:  “The Trump Administration’s policy toward Cuba is completely at odds with its policies toward other countries.  It is more in line with what one might expect of a totalitarian dictatorship.  Freedom to travel is a right.  It is fundamental.  It is part of who we are as Americans.  We travel.  We explore.  We meet people.  We share our values.  We build relationships with people we agree with and disagree with.  Americans overwhelmingly support expanding travel to Cuba.  The federal government should not be telling Americans where they can or cannot travel, especially to a tiny country just 90 miles from Florida.

Leahy continued:  “Because of the Trump Administration’s restrictions on travel, the number of Americans visiting Cuba this year is projected to plummet by half.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans who want to travel to Cuba are being denied that right by their own government.  It is they, and Cuba’s struggling private entrepreneurs who depend on American customers, who are penalized.  The restrictions that this bill would end are a failed vestige of the Cold War.  They are neither justified nor in our national security or economic interests.  If we don’t engage with Cuba, 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 in a democracy.”

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