Senate chairman: End of Cuban embargo 'possible'

Senate chairman: End of Cuban embargo 'possible'
© Greg Nash

Despite staunch opposition from some lawmakers, Congress could soon change course and end America's 56-year embargo on Cuba, the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee predicted on Wednesday.

“Obviously it’s not going to happen this year. But I think it’s something that could happen as we move into a new president,” Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerSenate sends Russia sanctions bill to Trump's desk GOP senators: House agreeing to go to conference on ObamaCare repeal Republicans get agreement on Russia, North Korea sanctions MORE (R-Tenn.) said at a breakfast briefing sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

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“A lot of it has to do with how Cuba behaves,” he added.

If the Communist island nation begins to address allegations of human rights abuses and seizes the new opening following President Obama’s historic outreach, “I think it's possible," the Senate chairman said. 

Corker's comments signal the emergence of a window for closing a long chapter in the nation's rigid stance on Cuba: the congressionally imposed blockade barring American companies from doing business there.

Despite Obama’s landmark efforts to roll back some of the restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba, only Congress can end the embargo. The president has repeatedly called for it to do so, claiming that "the Cold War is over."

The president’s rapprochement with Cuba drew mixed reactions when it was announced in late 2014. While some lawmakers from both parties hailed it as a momentous turn away from failed policies of the past, others railed against it as a show of support for an authoritarian regime.  

The White House’s unilateral actions normalized relations between the two nations and opened the door for Obama to make a historic trip to Cuba within the next month.