FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2015
Washington, D.C.—This morning, Congressman Tom Emmer of Minnesota filed the “Cuba Trade Act of 2015”, a bill which seeks to remove the long-standing barriers on trade with Cuba for American businesses and individuals. Emmer spoke of his recent trip to Cuba in June as an impetus for introducing this piece of legislation, which would reverse the failed 55 year embargo on the island.
This GOP-led piece of legislation is just another example of shifting Republican positions on the Cuba issue. In the Senate, Republican Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has introduced the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act” and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) has introduced the “Cuba Trade Act of 2015”, which also proposes ending the embargo. These GOP-led initiatives are reflective of overall public opinion, and the influence of a broad coalition of organizations and interest groups that support engagement over isolationist policies. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center study shows that 72 percent of Americans favor ending the trade embargo against Cuba. Furthermore, this stance appears to be shared by Democrats and Republicans alike, where 59 percent of Republicans support lifting the embargo, as compared to 82 percent of Democrats. The “Cuba Trade Act of 2015” has been co-sponsored by Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL), which also demonstrates changing public opinions in Florida, even among the Cuban-American community, which has long been the primary support base for isolationist U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba.
On these significant shifts, LAWG’s Mavis Anderson states: “Rep. Emmer has shown foresight and reason in his introduction of the new trade legislation in the House. The ground is shifting under traditional supporters of the embargo on Cuba; it is becoming truly a bipartisan issue, with Republicans taking the lead in both the House and Senate. The American people’s support for a new policy toward Cuba is undeniable. Our policymakers need to catch up to their constituents.”
This legislative momentum furthers President Barack Obama’s commitment to normalizing diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Since the December 17, 2014 announcement that the United States would change its course on Cuba policy, diplomatic achievements such as removing Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list on May 29, and reestablishing embassies in Washington, D.C. and Havana just last week, have set the stage for necessary congressional action on remaining areas of contention, including trade and travel.