Washington, DC | In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), on Friday, March 21, 2003, ten U.S. Senators announced the formation of the bipartisan “Senate Working Group on Cuba.” The letter said the working group would “examine U.S. policies toward Cuba, including trade and travel restrictions,” citing Americans’ right to travel and Cuba’s potential as a U.S. export market.
With the formation of the Senate Working Group on Cuba, both chambers of the U.S. Congress now have Cuba working groups committed to a new approach on U.S. policy toward Cuba. In the House of Representatives, the bipartisan, fifty-member Cuba Working Group was formed in April 2002. That group produced a “Review of U.S. Policy Toward Cuba,” and announced a nine-point legislative agenda. For more information on the House Cuba Working Group, visit http://www.cubafoundation.org/congress.html
The ten members of the Senate Working Group on Cuba are: 5 DEMOCRATS: Max Baucus (MT); Byron Dorgan (ND); Maria Cantwell (WA); Blanche Lincoln (AR); Jeff Bingaman (NM); 5 REPUBLICANS: Michael Enzi (WY); Chuck Hagel (NE); Norm Coleman (MN); Jim Talent (MO); Pat Roberts (KS).
The following is the text of the letter announcing the launch of the Senate Working Group on Cuba:
March 21, 2003
Dear Senators Frist and Daschle:
We are writing to inform you of our intention to launch the Senate Working Group on Cuba. The Working Group will examine U.S. policies toward Cuba, including current trade and travel restrictions.
The sanction policy of the United States has been ineffective since it was adopted in 1962. Other nations trade with Cuba, and their producers benefit from that trade. The U.S. policy places our farmers, workers, and companies at an international competitive disadvantage. By some estimates, the United States loses out on an export market of nearly $1 billion per year.
Current U.S. policy also hinders our ability to interact with the Cuban people by restricting American citizens’ right to travel to Cuba. We believe that the American people can have greater influence on Cuban society by developing a relationship with the Cuban people. That is the only way to influence the peaceful transition to democracy and a market-oriented economy.
We are pleased with the formation of this group and look forward to working with you on matters related to Cuba.
Max Baucus Michael Enzi
Byron Dorgan Chuck Hagel
Maria Cantwell Norm Coleman
Blanche Lincoln Jim Talent
Jeff Bingaman Pat Roberts
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