Cuba Business

White House Rejects Compromise On Cuba Trade Provision

Posted November 15, 2005 by crp236 in Cuba Business.

The White House has rejected compromise language in a contentious Cuban agricultural trade provision in the FY06 Transportation-Treasury appropriations bill, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said Monday.

From CongressDaily AM, November 15, 2005

White House Rejects Compromise On Cuba Trade Provision
    The White House has rejected compromise language in a contentious Cuban agricultural trade provision in the FY06 Transportation-Treasury appropriations bill, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said Monday.
    Both the House and Senate versions of the spending bill contained language that would have denied funds to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to enforce tighter regulations the Bush administration placed on agricultural trade with Cuba earlier this year.

    Those restrictions require Cuba to pay in advance for any agricultural products it buys from the United States, rather than follow regular trading practices, whereby payment is made after products are shipped but before they are unloaded in the port of destination. U.S. sales to Cuba have declined this year and farm groups have blamed the new regulations.

    Last Thursday, House conferees voted to strip the Cuba language from the final measure, but Senate conferees refused to agree and conference talks broke down.

    House Transportation-Treasury Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Knollenberg, R-Mich., who is chairing the conference, said White House officials had told him in five conversations that President Bush would veto the bill if the Cuba language remains in it.

    Dorgan, the author of the Senate amendment, said over the weekend he had agreed to a compromise under which OFAC would be denied $5 million until it changed the rules.

    Dorgan said both Senate and House conferees agreed to the change, but that the White House rejected it and Republican conferees now want to remove the Cuba language from the bill.

    Dorgan said Republicans “will just not stand up for family farmers’ interests. The majority party doesn’t want to do anything that isn’t in perfect sync with anything that President Bush wants. Obviously, the president has more sway with leaders in Congress than farmers do.”

    Despite the repeated White House warnings, Dorgan said he does not believe Bush would veto the Transportation-Treasury spending bill over the Cuba provision.

    Separately, 43 House members led by Reps. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and Ted Poe, R-Texas, sent conferees a letter last week asking them to retain the language.

    “If this policy change was meant to be a warning shot at Fidel Castro, it misses the mark entirely and lands smack in the middle of the American Heartland,” Emerson said in a statement. “Instead of buying agricultural commodities from U.S. producers with cash, Cuba has turned to Vietnam and other countries where these goods can be bought on credit.”

    The letter noted that since the imposition of the new payment-in-advance rule, U.S. rice sales to Cuba had declined 43 percent, apples 79 percent, soybean meal 68 percent, poultry 19 percent, wheat 13 percent, dairy products 43 percent, fresh fruit 79 percent, cotton 55 percent, pasta 84 percent and seafood 46 percent.

    Agricultural lobbyists continued Monday to urge conferees to keep the Cuba language in the final bill. It “has significant symbolism,” John Kavulich, the senior policy adviser of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, said in an e-mail to his membership Monday.

    But Kavulich added that members of Congress should not expect an increase in agricultural exports if the measure becomes law because it would not repeal the underlying legislation and would not prevent other officials such as U.S. attorneys from trying to enforce the law.

    Kirby Jones, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association, urged his members in an e-mail Monday evening to continue lobbying because the bill would not be filed until late today.

    “There are some senators who are refusing to sign the bill unless and until Cuba is resolved,” said Jones.

  By Jerry Hagstrom

Member Comments

On November 16, 2005, I-taoist wrote:

What utter nonsense from the White House and George W. Bush.  In effect, with this hard-line position, he is saying to Cuba “Let them eat straw.”  Such indifference and callousness to the plight of average Cubans is the very thing that continues to strengthen Castro and his henchmen.  This is not just stupid foreign policy, it is cruel and malicious.

Again we see the perverted influence of the Cuban-American lobby and its hate driven agenda to “starve them into submission.”  Cubans will indeed eat straw before knuckling under to such pressure tactics. 

Meanwhile, our struggling family farms are denied a close market with minimal transportation cost.  What idiocy. 

On November 16, 2005, crp236 wrote:

I agree. The people running our Cuba policy are idiots dressed as politicians. The embargo hurts the American farmer and the Cuban people. It does not hurt Fidel.