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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

PROTEST CUBA AMENDMENT REMOVAL - Latin America Working Group

Posted November 13, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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Dear Cuba Policy Advocates:

It is time to protest!  Last night, behind closed doors and without giving
an opportunity for the full conference committee to vote, Republican
leadership stripped the Cuba travel amendment from the FY04
Transportation-Treasury Appropriations bill.  This is a travesty.

Last month, the Senate voted 59-36 to include an amendment that would
eliminate funding for the enforcement of the Cuba travel ban.  The
House included the identical amendment in September by a vote of 227-188.  In a further show of strong Senate bipartisan support for ending the travel ban, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill, S. 950, to lift the Cuba travel ban entirely, by a vote of 13-5.

The purpose of a conference committee is to reconcile differences
between the House and Senate versions of a particular bill.  The margins of
support on the issue of travel to Cuba reflected a clear and undeniable
statement of policy intent by Congress. 

Since both Houses of Congress passed the same amendment, there was nothing for the conferees to reconcile.  Please see the LAWG press release below for further statements.

ACTION 1:  Call your two senators and your representative to loudly
protest
this subversion of democracy.  Talking points:
* Polls show that the American people want the travel ban to Cuba to
end.
* It is the bipartisan will of the Congress that the travel ban end.
* It would benefit the Cuban people for the travel ban to end.
* The White House and the Republican leadership should not have the
power to
remove the amendment against the will of the people and of the
Congress.
* This is an undemocratic action.  We protest.

The US Capitol Switchboard number is 202.224.3121, or look your member
up on
the internet at [url=http://www.house.gov]http://www.house.gov[/url] or [url=http://www.senate.gov]http://www.senate.gov[/url]  You can also try a
toll
free line to the Capitol Switchboard, but it is often busy: 
1.800.839.5276.
If the switchboard is busy when you call, please try to reach your
members
directly by phone, fax, or email.

ACTION 2:  Contact President Bush to protest pandering to Florida
electoral
votes.  Same talking points.

Phone numbers:
Comments:  202.456.1111
Switchboard:  202.456.1414
Fax:  202.456.2461

TTY/TDD
Comments:  202.456.6213

Email:  President George W. Bush .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
White House Comment Mail Web: 
https://sawho14.eop.gov/PERSdata/intro.htm
Mailing address:  The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington,
DC 20500

Thanks for all you do with us to end the embargo on Cuba.  We’ll keep
you
informed about what happens next.  Supporters of the Cuba travel
amendment
have said that if the conferees produced a conference report that
excluded
their amendment, they would consider all parliamentary options
available to
them to respond to that eventuality.  The final word may not have been
written yet.

See our press release below.

Sincerely,

Mavis Anderson
Philip Schmidt
Latin America Working Group
[url=http://www.lawg.org]http://www.lawg.org[/url]

P.S. Support our efforts to forge a new US policy towards Cuba by
contributing to the Latin America Working Group! Only with your help
can we
keep providing the resources and information to build a better foreign
policy.  Give online at
http://www.lawg.org/pages/new%20pages/Misc/Donations.htm (if the link
doesn’t work, please cut and paste into your browser), or send a
donation to
LAWG, 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Box 15, Washington, DC 20002 (for a
tax-deductible donation, give to the LAWG Education Fund). Thanks!
___________________________________________

We respect your privacy. If you do not wish to receive these e-mail
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in
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Leadership Strips Cuba Travel Amendment Against the Will of Congress

For immediate release
Contact: Mavis Anderson, Philip Schmidt, 202-546-7010
          Latin America Working Group

In a move that defies the will of both chambers of Congress, the
congressional leadership last night stripped out an amendment from the
Transportation-Treasury Appropriations bill that would have allowed
travel
to Cuba. The move came during the conference committee on the bill
behind
closed doors, provoking outrage among groups and individuals across the
nation that have been working to end the counterproductive travel ban.
The
Senate voted 59-36 to adopt the amendment while the House voted
227-188, for
the fourth consecutive year.  In the most egregious twist, sources on
the
Hill said that the Cuba provision was stripped out before the conferees
even
formally met, so there was no opportunity for them to vote on whether
or not
to remove it.

“We believe that stripping out this amendment behind closed doors casts
doubts on the merits of our democracy at a time when the embargo is
purported to encourage democracy in Cuba. What kind of a message does
this
send?” asked Mavis Anderson, Senior Associate at the Latin America
Working
Group.

Going into the conference committee, many of the legislators who had
worked
to pass the amendment urged their colleagues to respect the will of
Congress
and retain the provisions. In a statement last week, Senator Max Baucus
(D-MT) said “Suspending enforcement of the Cuba travel ban passed the
Senate
by a wide bipartisan margin and passed the House by a wide bipartisan
margin. There is absolutely no reason the provision should be removed
from
the Treasury-Transportation Appropriations bill. To do so would be a
direct
act against the will of a majority of Congress and majority of
Americans.”

Pressure from a White House—eying Florida’s electoral votes—was cited
by
congressional leaders as the reason for the change.  “It’s clear that
the
White House isn’t listening to the will of the majority of Americans,
who
support ending these senseless restrictions,” said Philip Schmidt from
the
Latin America Working Group. “The administration believes that gaining
a few
votes in Florida is worth angering a broad section of the rest of the
nation. This thinking could backfire on them.”
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