Rob Sequin | Havana Journal
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, Congressman Jerry Moran of Kansas and at least 31 of their House colleagues introduced new legislation (HR 4645) designed to expand U.S. agriculture exports and allow freedom of travel to Cuba for all citizens and legal residents of the United States.
The bill is titled the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act.
Goals of the legislation are to create more jobs for U.S. agriculture, provide new routes and revenues for the US travel industry and to restore Americans’ fundamental right to travel.
This bill would allow banks in Cuba to wire payments for US agricultural purchases directly to the U.S. bank of the producer, rather than making the payment through a third country, which adds time and cost. This bill will also restore the traditional definition of “cash in advance,” which transfers title of the product (after payment is received) once the shipment has arrived in the Havana port, rather than while still in a U.S. port, which leaves the commodity vulnerable to being confiscated.
SUPPORT FOR TRAVEL: After years of working with you to organize and educate the U.S. public, allowing U.S. citizens’ travel to Cuba is now favored by a majority of U.S. citizens and 67 percent of Cuban Americans. And the ripple effect created by our efforts in Miami, Washington, and beyond is finally changing attitudes in Congress: the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (HR 874, introduced by Congressmen Delahunt and Flake; and S 428, introduced by Senators Dorgan and Enzi), legislation similar to the new Peterson-Moran bill, has won the backing of 177 House members and 38 senators.
“The Peterson-Moran bill is a departure from a policy that hasn’t worked and won’t, and it provides a much stronger and better direction for us to take,” says Mavis Anderson, Senior Associate at the Latin America Working Group.
As you know, we need 218 votes in the House and a super-majority of 60 in the Senate. It appears that we have gone about as far as we can go in gathering cosponsors for these two original travel bills. We need something to attract a new constituency, activate educational work on Capitol Hill, re-focus the Congress, create more momentum, and push us over the top.
That’s where the Peterson-Moran bill comes in. A lot of work on Capitol Hill by the agriculture and commodity communities is making a big difference. Additional members are paying attention, and several new cosponsors have already been attracted to this new bill. Joining travel and ag together in the same legislation will, we anticipate, give us the boost that we need to get the job done.
NEW OPPORTUNITY: While we should celebrate what we’ve already achieved, our work isn’t finished until this senseless, Cold War-era policy that infringes upon our right to freely exchange with Cuba—as we are allowed to do with the rest of the world—is defeated. The Peterson-Moran bill gives us the best chance of doing that this year, but—because this is U.S.-Cuba policy we’re talking about—we cannot rest assured of its smooth passage by Congress. We need to help it along with constituent activism.
While this bill is not what we had originally envisioned, the economic and political moment means that Congress is focused on creating jobs. The Peterson-Moran bill will achieve our goal of ending the travel ban on Cuba, but it will also create jobs here at home in the agricultural, travel, hospitality, dairy, and other industries that have been hard hit by the recession.
From Foreign Policy Association
Melissa Lockhart points out that facilitating trade would benefit the U.S. economy and the Cuban people—two goals that the U.S. government claims to care deeply about.
Republican Representative Jerry Moran (Kansas), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, explained the practical reasoning behind the bill’s proposed changes to current legislation: “Current U.S. trade policies hurt American farmers and ranchers by making it more expensive for Cuba to purchase agriculture products from the United States. Instead, Cuba is buying its food from other countries less friendly to the U.S.”
The Capitol Switchboard is (202) 224-3121. If House members know they have their constituents’ backing, they’re more likely to get off the sidelines and co-sponsor Peterson-Moran.
The Havana Journal supports LAWG’s efforts and the passage of this bill.
Text of Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act
111TH CONGRESS - IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. PETERSON (for himself, Mr. MORAN of Kansas, Ms. DELAURO, and Mrs. EMERSON) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee
To remove obstacles to legal sales of United States agricultural commodities to Cuba and to end travel restrictions on all Americans to Cuba.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE
This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act’’.
SECTION 2. TRAVEL TO CUBA
(1) the President may not regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly, travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or lawful permanent residents, or any of the transactions incident to such travel;
(2) any regulation in effect on such date of enactment that regulates or prohibits travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or lawful permanent residents or transactions incident to such travel shall cease to have any force or effect.
Subsection (a) shall not apply in a case in which the United States is at war with Cuba, armed hostilities between the two countries are in progress, or there is imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of United States travelers.
This section applies to actions taken by the President before the date of the enactment of this Act that are in effect on such date of enactment, and to actions taken on or after such date.
(d) INAPPLICABILITY OF OTHER PROVISIONS
The provisions of this section apply notwithstanding section 102(h) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (22 U.S.C. 6032(h)) and section 910(b) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7210(b)).
SECTION 3. CLARIFICATION OF PAYMENT TERMS UNDER THE TRADE SANCTIONS REFORM AND EXPORT ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2000
Section 908(b)(4) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7207(b)(4)) is amended—
(1) in subparagraph (B), by striking ‘‘and’’ at the end;
(2) in subparagraph (C), by striking the period at the end and inserting ‘‘; and’’;
(3) by adding at the end the following:
‘‘(D) the term ‘payment of cash in advance’ means, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the payment by the purchaser of an agricultural commodity or product and the receipt of such payment by the seller prior to—‘‘(i) the transfer of title of such commodity or product to the purchaser; and ‘‘(ii) the release of control of such commodity or product to the purchaser.’’.
SECTION 4. AUTHORIZATION OF DIRECT TRANSFERS BETWEEN CUBAN AND UNITED STATES FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS UNDER THE TRADE SANCTIONS REFORM AND EXPORT ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2000
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President may not restrict direct transfers from a Cuban financial institution to a United States financial institution executed in payment for a product authorized for sale under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.).