GOPer doubles down on pledge to block Obama on Cuba
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Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference 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. 
 
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His remarks come after the Cuban government reopened its embassy in Washington, which has been closed since 1961. Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryOvernight Energy: Treasury creates hub to fight climate change through finance | Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' | Blinken says US falling behind China as global leader on climate change The shipping industry needs to move in line with the Paris Agreement 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. 
 
 
Republicans haven't been the only ones critical of Obama's push to normalize relations with Cuba.
 
Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 Bottom line The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges 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."