When President Barack Obama announced that he'd begin normalizing relations with Cuba in December, it seemed that the end of the Cuban embargo might not be far away. However, the president doesn't have the power do that by himself. First, Congress must pass legislation reversing the nearly 55-year-old policy.
Well, today a group of six senators, including four Democrats and two Republicans, introduced a bill to do away with the embargo.
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Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota is the driving force behind the bill, but is joined by Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming; Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan; Jeff Flake, R-Arizona; Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont; and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.
Dubbed "The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act," the bill would pave the way for American companies to do business in the island nation.
"It's time to the turn the page on our Cuba policy," Klobuchar said in a statement. "Fifty years of the embargo have not secured our interests in Cuba and have disadvantaged American businesses by restricting commerce with a market of 11 million people just 90 miles from our shores."
The bill is being pushed by the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, a coalition of U.S. farm interests, including the National Chicken Council, the American Meat Institute, the U.S. Dry Bean Council, and the Corn Refiners Association. Basically, they want to export food to Cuba.
"Ending the embargo will enable our agriculture sector to work in partnership with Cuba and the Cuban people, develop a meaningful trading relationship and create jobs across many sectors of our own economy," said Devry Boughner Vorwerk, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Cargill and Chair of USACC, in a statement.
However, no companion bill has been filed in the House, and Speaker John Boehner has signaled he's not ready to support lifting the embargo.
So this is probably the first shot in what could be a long political battle.
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