Historic Senate Vote to End Cuba Travel Ban

Senate Seconds September House Vote and Defies Pressure from Administration The Senate voted today to end the ban on travel to Cuba. The vote comes less than two weeks after a press conference by President Bush in which He announced that he would crack down on people traveling to Cuba illegally.

Philip Schmidt of the Latin America Working Group noted, "The Bush Administration has repeatedly threatened to veto any bill that would ease the embargo, but bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate have rejected this pressure and voted their conscience on Cuba policy by supporting an end to restrictions on Americans’ right to travel to Cuba."

The Senate passed two amendments by voice vote that would prohibit funding for enforcement of restrictions on travel to Cuba. The House passed an amendment to end the travel ban on September 9th by a vote of 227-188. The House and Senate amendments were on each chamber’s version of the Treasury, Transportation and General Government Appropriations bill. Because the language that passed the Senate today is identical to the amendment that passed the House last month, it will be difficult for the measure to be changed or taken out of the final version of bill negotiated by the conference committee before it is sent to the President.

"Both the House and Senate have demonstrated their strong support for a new approach to Cuba. The Bush Administration should recognize it is behind the times in its approach to Cuba, because Congress has clearly demonstrated it will no longer let U.S.-Cuba policy be determined by domestic politics," commented Rachel Farley of the Washington Office on Latin America.