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Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonTom Cotton rails against cable news countdown clocks GOP lawmakers call on FCC chair to soften data services proposal Trump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards MORE (R-Ark.) doubled down Monday on his pledge to undermine the Obama administration's push to normalize relations with Cuba, after the country reopened its embassy in Washington after 54 years.
"We must stand up to the Cuban regime and stand with the Cuban people. Rest assured, I will work to maintain and increase sanctions on the regime, block the confirmation of a new ambassador, demand the extradition of U.S. fugitives from justice, and hold the Castro regime accountable," said Cotton, a vocal critic of the administration's foreign policy.
His remarks come after the Cuban government reopened its embassy in Washington, which has been closed since 1961. Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryEllison comments on Obama criticized as 'a stupid thing to say' 'Can you hear me now?' Trump team voices credible threat of force Obama to attend Pittsburgh Steelers owner's funeral MORE said the move marked a "historic day," but warned that the road to better relations would include bumps and moments of frustration.
Cotton called the move "a grave mistake."
"It is unacceptable that the President has opened an embassy in Havana before opening one in Jerusalem, and it sends the wrong message to our enemies and allies alike," he added.
Cotton and other Senate Republicans, who have shown little interest in lifting the U.S. embargo, pledged earlier this month that they would block whoever Obama nominates to be ambassador to Cuba and withhold funding to upgrade the current U.S. outpost in Havana.
But a State Department spending bill passed a Appropriations Committee subcommittee was silent on the approximately $6 million requested by the administration to convert the building into an embassy.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamRussian interference looms over European elections Graham: I’m ‘all in’ for Trump Graham: US on a collision course with North Korea MORE (R-S.C.) suggested that while he opposes the embassy, it's unclear if foreign policy hawks will have the votes to carry out their threat.
Republicans haven't been the only ones critical of Obama's push to normalize relations with Cuba.
Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezTaiwan deserves to participate in United Nations The way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump Corruption trial could roil NJ Senate race MORE (N.J.), a leading Democratic critic of Obama on foreign policy, said that by reopening embassies the Obama administration helps "validate the Castro regime’s brutal behavior, doubling down on a one-sided deal reopening of embassies."