On Tuesday, September 28 the much-awaited mark-up and vote on HR 4645 in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs was postponed. Here is the statement from Chairman Howard Berman, upon announcing the postponement:
Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement regarding the markup of H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act:
“For a very long time, I have either led or supported efforts to repeal restrictions on the freedom of Americans to travel. The current prohibition on Americans traveling to Cuba is the last obstacle to the full enjoyment of this right. I strongly support H.R.4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which would eliminate the Cuba travel restrictions.
“The Committee had been scheduled to consider this legislation tomorrow, but it now appears that Wednesday will be the last day that Congress is in session before an extended district work period. That makes it increasingly likely that our discussion of the bill will be disrupted or cut short by votes or other activity on the House floor. Accordingly, I am postponing consideration of H.R. 4645 until a time when the Committee will be able to hold the robust and uninterrupted debate this important issue deserves. I firmly believe that when we debate and vote on the merits of this legislation, and I intend for it to be soon, the right to travel will be restored to all Americans.”
We’d be kidding you if we said we were only a little disappointed that the committee postponed consideration of HR 4645, which, if passed, would have allowed all of us to travel to Cuba whenever we want. We are disappointed big time. Big time.
We felt so good about the direction in which the committee’s vote commitments were going, and we were so impressed and grateful for the tremendous effort you all put into this campaign. Democracy was really working; citizens were expressing their views to their elected officials; members of Congress were listening. While only the Chairman knew the hard-clad, private commitments he had received, we expected to win. But the reality of action on the last day of the session before recess for campaigning took its toll. Members wanted to leave town; we needed ALL of them to show up to cast their votes in order to be successful.
The bottom line right now is: you did GREAT and valiant work on this campaign to restore our right to travel to Cuba. You made significant progress, and we feel very good about that. Neither Congress nor the President has responded to this opportunity; nor have they reacted appropriately to what is currently happening in Cuba.
We aren’t finished yet in calling them to act on our behalf.
We are delayed, but we are not defeated.We’ll be back to you in October.
Don’t hang up your hats yet.