A proposal in Congress to roll back the Obama administration’s broad opening of Cuban-American travel and remittances to the island appears likely to be approved as part of a massive year-end spending bill, according to Congress members.
“My concern is that this is very much alive,” Rep. José E. Serrano, a New York Democrat who has long opposed U.S. sanctions on Cuba, declared Monday as he tried to mobilize opposition to the proposal.
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, submitted by South Florida Republican Mario Diaz Balart in July and approved by a committee as part of a Treasury spending bill.
The Treasury bill is one of the nine end-of-year U.S. government spending measures rolled into one and now under consideration by the House and Senate. The two chambers are trying to agree on a compromise version before the holidays recess.
There’s been no sign so far that the Diaz-Balart effort has been stripped from the compromise bill under negotiation, and Obama would find it difficult if not impossible to block it if it remains on the version of the spending bill that reaches his desk.
The Diaz-Balart measure would return the restrictions to levels set by President George W. Bush: only one trip every three years for “family reunifications,” a cap on remittances of $1,200 per year and a tighter definition of “family.”’
“This is changing the rules in the middle of the game,” Serrano told El Nuevo Herald Monday. “What happens to Doña Juana, who left today for Cuba. She will be in violation What happens to people who made plans to travel the 22nd?”