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Cuba: Issues for the 110th Congress
Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba under Fidel Castro has consisted
largely of isolating the communist nation through comprehensive economic
sanctions, which have been significantly tightened by the Bush Administration,
including restrictions on travel, private humanitarian assistance, and payment terms
for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba. A second component of U.S. policy has
consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including private humanitarian
donations and U.S.-sponsored radio and television broadcasting to Cuba.
As in past years, the main issue for U.S. policy toward Cuba in the 110th
Congress will be how to best support political and economic change in one of the
world's remaining few communist nations. Unlike past years, however, Congress is
now examining policy toward Cuba in the context of Fidel Castro's temporary, and
potentially permanent, departure from the political scene because of health
conditions, which could foster a re-examination of U.S. policy. Although there has
been broad agreement in Congress on the overall objective of U.S. policy toward
Cuba - to help bring democracy and respect for human rights to the island - there
have been several schools of thought on how best to achieve that objective. Some
advocate maximum pressure on the Cuban government until reforms are enacted;
others argue for lifting some sanctions that they believe are hurting the Cuban people,
or as part of a strategy of lifting sanctions incrementally in response to positive
changes in Cuba. Still others call for a swift normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations.
Over the past several years, Congress has continued its high level of interest in
Cuba with a variety of legislative initiatives regarding sanctions and human rights.
Although one or both houses have at times approved legislative provisions that
would ease U.S. sanctions on Cuba, ultimately these provisions have been stripped
out of the final enacted measures. President Bush has regularly threatened to veto
various appropriations bills if they contained provisions weakening the embargo.
Legislative action on several FY2007 appropriations measures was not
completed in the 109th Congress, so action can be anticipated in 2007. House-passed
H.R. 5522 would have funded FY2007 Cuba democracy projects, and House and
Senate versions of the bill had contrasting provisions on anti-drug cooperation with
Cuba. Other bills addressed provisions on agricultural exports, travel, and Cuba
broadcasting. In the 110th Congress, several measures have been introduced that
would ease Cuba sanctions - H.R. 177 (educational travel), H.R. 216 (Cuban
baseball players), and H.R. 217 (overall embargo) - while one measure would
tighten sanctions - H.R. 571 (related to U.S. fugitives in Cuba).
This report will be updated regularly. Also see CRS Report RL33622, Cuba
after Fidel Castro: U.S. Policy Implications andApproaches; CRS Report RL3 1139,
Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances; CRS Report RL32251, Cuba
and the State Sponsors of Terrorism List; CRS Report RL33499, Exempting Food
and Agriculture Products from U.S. Economic Sanctions: Status and
Implementation; CRS Report RS20468, Cuban Migration Policy and Issues; and
CRS Report RL32730, Cuba: Issues for the 109th Congress.
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Cuba: Issues for the 110th Congress, report, January 22, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc805339/m1/2/: accessed June 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.