By BILLY HOUSE | Media General News Service
Democratic and Republican members of Congress who want to change U.S. policy toward Cuba aren’t just focusing on lifting travel and trade sanctions in place for more than 45 years.
Cuba-related measures introduced this session also range from a bill to allow U.S. oil and natural gas companies to work with the Cuban government to drill in Cuban waters to legislation to lift immigration restrictions for Cubans to play professional baseball in the United States.
Most of these bills — like those that would increase travel or trade — are unlikely to survive President Bush’s veto threats. None claims any Florida members of Congress as sponsors or co-sponsors.
Still, these bills reflect the interest from lawmakers outside of Florida toward relaxing sanctions against the island country, perhaps boosted by speculation that Fidel Castro may never return to power.
Here’s a quick rundown:
•S.875: Known as the Security and Fuel Efficiency Act of 2007, this bill would allow U.S. oil and natural gas companies to work with the Cuban government to drill in Cuban offshore fields already being explored by joint ventures involving companies from Spain, China, Norway and elsewhere. The main sponsor is Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. It has one co-sponsor.
Florida GOP Sen. Mel Martinez has responded with his own bill (S. 876) to impose sanctions on individuals or entities that invest $1 million or more to develop Cuba’s oil and natural gas resources, and to deny U.S. visas to foreign agents that contribute to that development.
•S.721: This bill would end all travel restrictions on American travel to Cuba. The main sponsor is Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. It has 14 co-sponsors.
•H.R. 1026: The Agriculture Export Facilitation Act of 2007 would end the requirement that the Cuban government pay cash for food shipments before the shipments leave U.S. ports. The main sponsor is Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. It has nine co-sponsors.
•H.R. 757: The Cuban-American Family Rights Restoration Act would allow U.S. nationals and permanent residents to visit family members in Cuba. The main sponsor is Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass. It has 22 co-sponsors.
•H.R. 654: The Export Freedom to Cuba Act would allow all travel between the United States and Cuba. The main sponsor is Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. It has 89 co-sponsors.
•H.R. 624: The Free Trade with Cuba Act would lift the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba and remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism subject to agricultural and medical export restrictions. The main sponsor is Rangel. It has 35 co-sponsors.
•H.R. 217: This bill would repeal the embargo placed upon all trade with Cuba. The main sponsor is Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y. It has eight co-sponsors.
•H.R. 216: This would waive prohibitions with respect to Cuban nationals coming to the United States to play professional baseball. The main sponsor is Serrano. It has four co-sponsors.
Billy House is the Washington correspondent for the Tampa Tribune.
Here is the link to the Library of Congress. Search for keyword Cuba when you get there.