Cruz: Cuba embassy a 'slap in the face' to Israel
© Greg Nash
 
The administration announced on Wednesday that it has told lawmakers that a deal has been reached to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba and reopen embassies. 
 
Cruz, who is running for president, called Obama's announcement "unacceptable and a slap in the face of a close ally that the United States will have an embassy in Havana before one in Jerusalem." 
 
The United States currently has an embassy in Tel Aviv, but Cruz has repeatedly called for the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. 
 
The Texas Republican, as well as Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats Mellman: Are primary debates different? Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court MORE (R-Fla.), have backed legislation that would scrap a national security waiver that allows the administration to bypass a 1995 law to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem. 
 
Rubio said separately on Wednesday that he would oppose the confirmation of an ambassador to Cuba until the Obama administration tackles a handful of issues including U.S. fugitives living in Cuba and travel restrictions on U.S. diplomats. 

Cruz added in a statement that he will place a hold, effectively blocking, any nominee unless Obama "can demonstrate that he has made some progress in alleviating the misery" of the Cuban people.

Obama's move has split Republicans, with Sens. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump endorses McSally in Arizona Senate race Jeff Flake becoming Harvard fellow Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) suggesting that Wednesday's announcement was a step in the right direction.

Democrats largely backed Obama's decision, with Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDemocrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt Proposed bipartisan kidney legislation takes on kidney disease epidemic in America Lawmakers raise security concerns about China building NYC subway cars MORE (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, saying that "we are moving in a more hopeful direction."

But Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate to vote on blocking Trump's Saudi arms deal as soon as this week There is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties MORE (D-N.J.), a leading critic of Obama's Cuba policy, said that the decision sends a message that "democracy and human rights take a back seat to a legacy initiative.”