Anderson Cooper takes down AZ State Senator Over SB-1062

Jerry Hagstrom
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Jerry Hagstrom
Feb. 25, 2014, 3:37 a.m.

Mid­west­ern law­makers made a new push Tues­day for le­gis­la­tion that would ease U.S. travel to Cuba and re­move meas­ures that the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion put in place to make it harder to ex­port U.S. ag­ri­cul­tur­al products to Cuba.

House Ag­ri­cul­ture Chair­man Col­lin Peterson, Rep. Le­onard Boswell, D-Iowa, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., are lead­ing the ef­fort to get the le­gis­la­tion on the floor, ar­guing it has strong chances of suc­ceed­ing once it is out of com­mit­tee.

The House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee passed Peterson’s Cuba bill this sum­mer, but the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, which also has jur­is­dic­tion, has not ac­ted. The Sen­ate has not ad­vanced the com­pan­ion bill that was in­tro­duced by Klobuchar and Sen. Mike En­zi, R-Wyo.

Ad­voc­ates for eas­ing re­la­tions with Cuba say there are bet­ter chances of pas­sage now, after Cuba an­nounced this sum­mer that it would re­lease polit­ic­al pris­on­ers.

At a news con­fer­ence with the Na­tion­al Farm­ers Uni­on Tues­day, Klobuchar said the bill is simple to im­ple­ment be­cause it would end the re­quire­ment that Cubans used a bank in a third coun­try to pro­cess pay­ment. It would also end the ban on U.S. travel to Cuba.

Peterson urged NFU mem­bers to lobby law­makers on the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee to pass the meas­ure. Peterson said that House For­eign Af­fairs Chair­man Howard Ber­man needs only a few more votes but will not hold a markup un­less he has the votes to pass it.

“There is a lot of money spread around on the oth­er side of this is­sue,” Peterson said, re­fer­ring to cam­paign dona­tions from groups that op­pose closer re­la­tions with Cuba un­less the gov­ern­ment changes.

A Ber­man aide did not re­turn a call seek­ing in­form­a­tion on plans for a markup.

NFU Pres­id­ent Ro­ger John­son said his mem­bers would make the Cuba bill a lob­by­ing pri­or­ity dur­ing their vis­it to Wash­ing­ton be­cause U.S. sales to Cuba have slipped. John­son said the tough­er fin­an­cing rules the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion put in place have dis­cour­aged sales be­cause they raise the Cuban gov­ern­ment’s trans­ac­tion costs. Al­though Con­gress and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion have lif­ted some of the Bush-era pro­vi­sions that make pay­ment meth­ods more com­plic­ated, John­son said that the bill would provide cer­tainty. He called the cur­rent situ­ation “a self-im­posed em­bargo on sales.”

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Eco­nom­ic Coun­cil, U.S. ag­ri­cul­tur­al ex­ports to Cuba for Janu­ary to May were $182 mil­lion com­pared with $278 mil­lion in the same peri­od in 2009, a de­crease of about 35 per­cent.

But John Kavu­lich, the seni­or policy ad­viser for the coun­cil, said the Bush-era fin­ance re­stric­tions were not to blame. He at­trib­uted the de­crease to Cuba’s eco­nom­ic prob­lems; its lack of for­eign cur­rency; and its grow­ing re­la­tion­ship with oth­er trad­ing part­ners such as China, Brazil, Ar­gen­tina, Vi­et­nam, Mex­ico, Canada, Rus­sia and Ir­an.

What We're Following See More »
Manafort Case Moves to Closing Arguments
3 days ago
Manafort Defense Rests
4 days ago
Judge Holds Witness in Contempt in Manafort Case
1 weeks ago

"A federal judge has found a witness in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury hearing evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell made the ruling Friday after a sealed hearing to discuss Andrew Miller’s refusal to appear before the grand jury. Miller is a former aide to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone."

Gates Says He Committed Crimes with Manafort
1 weeks ago

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates said in court today that "he conspired with Manafort to falsify Manafort’s tax returns. Gates said he and Manafort knowingly failed to report foreign bank accounts and had failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent."

Gates to Be Called Next in Manafort Case
1 weeks ago

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.