Democratic sit-in postpones House vote on Cuba measures
Among the proposed measures are amendments to soften travel restrictions
to Cuba as well as prohibit transactions with ties to the Cuban military.
POR NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
A "sit-in" by Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill to push for gun
control legislation, forced a delay of votes on various proposals
related to Cuba that was included in a draft budget for financial
services and other government spending slated to before the House of
Representatives Wednesday night.
Earlier in the day, Democratic lawmakers led by John Lewis began a
protest that continued through the wee hours on Thursday and forced
Republican leaders to abandon plans to discuss a proposed bill
containing amendments and provisions that would further chip away at the
U.S. embargo against Cuba as well as strengthen current sanctions.
The House is now in recess through July 5, when voting procedures
resume. But the draft budget for financial services — which contains the
Cuba-related measures — may not be the priority, said a source in
Congress. The delay could halt "the momentum" of those seeking to relax
the embargo, the source said.
Last week, efforts to boost Congressional action to relax the embargo
obtained a partial victory. The Senate Appropriations Committee, in
their own version of the budget for the financial services and general
government expenses for 2017, approved two amendments to eliminate
prohibitions on travel to Cuba and allow the extension of private
credits to companies on the island for the purchase of U.S. agricultural
On Tuesday, during an evening vote, the House Rules Committee deemed as
"in order" two similar amendments to be considered for inclusion in the
draft version of the budget bill.
The final vote on the bill was to happen between Wednesday and Thursday,
which includes provisions to restrict authorized travel to Cuba,
prohibit "trafficking" of properties confiscated by the Cuban government
that belonged to U.S. citizens and ban transactions with companies
controlled by the Cuban military. GAESA, a military conglomerate,
currently controls nearly 60% of the Cuban economy.
During the sit-in, House President Paul Ryan finally took control of the
chamber late Wednesday to force a vote on a $1 billion emergency aid
package to combat the zika virus, which was ultimately approved after 3 a.m.
The proposals on Cuba must now wait until after the legislative recess.
Source: Democratic sit-in postpones House vote on Cuba measures | In
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