If the Obama administration eases restrictions on legal travel to Cuba as much as is expected, the president will have done everything in his power to change the course of our policy toward Cuba. Congress should see this as a clear signal that the next move is theirs and the time is right to consider  “The Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act” (H.R. 4645), which already enjoys widespread support, and begin to lay the groundwork for a U.S. role in the future of Cuba.

Supporters of our half-century-old policy toward Cuba will argue that the regime should not be rewarded for the release of political prisoners or for announcements that the government will allow more of its citizens to be self-employed. The U.S. Chamber argues that U.S. foreign policy should not be based on isolation and an unproductive preoccupation with an aging and moribund communist regime, but on engagement and the best way to promote change on the island.

In a letter sent this week to House Foreign Affairs Committee members, the U.S. Chamber urged a mark-up of H.R. 4645 because getting U.S.-Cuba policy right matters. It will send a signal to the wider world about American values and how their influence can help shape a brighter future for the Cuban people. It is time for American citizens to act as ambassadors of freedom, democracy, free markets, and free enterprise and begin to permeate Cuban society to support a transition to democracy and full civil liberties. 

Maria Medrano is the executive director for the Americas at the U.S. Chamber.