A powerful Senate
committee has voted to put an end to the remaining restrictions on U.S.
citizens traveling to Cuba.
which was presented as an amendment to the Senate Appropriation Committee’s
fiscal year 2017 financial services bill, passed on an uncontested June 17
said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), one of its sponsors, would make it
possible for Americans to travel to Cuba without the interference from their
Leahy noted that
under current U.S. law, Americans can travel anywhere else in the world,
including North Korea, Iran and Syria. But to go to
Cuba, Americans must travel for one of 12 approved reasons, including
educational, religious and humanitarian purposes.
amendment was co-sponsored by senators Dick Durban (D-Ill.) and Jerry Moran
Despite its easy passage out of the Senate Appropriations
Committee, a full repeal of the travel ban could face more challenges in the
House, where opposition to the Obama Administration’s rapprochement with Cuba
is stronger. Last summer the House voted 247-176 on a provision to a spending
bill that was to roll back the steps the administration had already taken to ease
travel restrictions to Cuba.
Since then, however, that easing has become more pronounced. Early
this month, the DOT approved commercial air service to Cuban destinations
outside Havana by six U.S. airlines. Flights are expected to begin in
September. The DOT is still weighing applications for air service to Havana,
with those approvals expected this summer.
In addition, Carnival Corp.'s new Fathom cruise line in May took the first
legally approved cruise between the U.S. and Cuba since the onset of the
The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved other
Cuba-related amendments last week. One, sponsored by Sen. Susan
Collins (R-Maine), would allow flights operated by non-U.S. carriers on their way to or
from Cuba to refuel at U.S. airports.
airports to provide this service could provide additional jobs to airports
throughout the country,” Collins said before the voice vote.
would put an end to the requirement that a vessel entering Cuba must
wait six months before it can unload or load freight in the U.S.