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Lawmakers seek to end restrictions on to Cuba
BY PATRICIA ZENGERLE
WASHINGTON Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:45am EST

(Reuters) – Eight Republican and Democratic senators will introduce
legislation on Thursday to end restrictions on U.S. citizens’ travel to
Cuba, the first effort in Congress toward ending the U.S. since
President Barack Obama moved to normalize relations last month.

The bill would end legal restrictions on travel to the island by U.S.
citizens and legal residents, according to a statement about the
senators’ plans.

It would also end restrictions on banking transactions related to that
travel.

The Obama administration announced some loosening of restrictions on
travel last month, but Congress must vote to end the laws that put them
in place.

The senators backing the bill include Republicans Jeff Flake, Jerry
Moran, Michael Enzi and John Boozman, as well as Democrats Patrick
Leahy, Richard Durbin, Tom Udall and Sheldon Whitehouse.

A companion bill will be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives
next week by Republican Representative Mark Sanford and Democratic
Representative Jim McGovern.

Obama and Cuban President announced on Dec. 17 they would
work toward normalizing relations between their two countries, more than
half a century after Castro’s brother Fidel took power and began
implementing communist rule in the island nation.

There has been vocal opposition toward the plan in the U.S. Congress,
led by staunchly anti-Castro Cuban-American lawmakers including
Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez.

Opponents of Obama’s plans have so far not announced any legislation
seeking to stop them. There will be hearings on Cuba next week in both
the Senate and House.

Castro set a tough tone on relations with the United States in a speech
on Wednesday, warning that any U.S. interference in Cuba’s internal
affairs would make rapprochement between the two countries meaningless.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu)

Source: Lawmakers seek to end restrictions on travel to Cuba | Reuters –
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/29/us-cuba-usa-idUSKBN0L21HQ20150129

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