Graham: Block funds for US embassy in Cuba

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday said he will seek to block federal funds from financing a future U.S. embassy in Cuba.

Graham said President Obama's decision to hold talks on normalizing relations with Cuba was a bad idea in a message posted on Twitter.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest brushed aside the threat, saying it was "not clear" the establishment of an embassy would require additional appropriations because there was already a substantial diplomatic presence at the U.S. interests section in Havana.


"I don't know of any specific appropriations request... there may be one in the future," Earnest said.

Graham's threat could set up another funding fight with Democrats and the White House in the next Congress.

In addition to reestablishing a diplomatic relationship, Obama announced new policies easing restrictions on travel to Cuba and expanding trade between the two countries.

Before the president announced the changes, the U.S. exchanged three Cubans who were convicted of spying on anti-Castro organizations in Miami for a U.S. intelligence agent who had been in a Cuban prison for nearly 20 years.

USAID worker Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for the last five years, was also released and returned to the U.S.

Graham is among a number of both Republicans and some Democrats who expressed concern over the swap and the new policies. Other members of Congress applauded the changes.

Graham will remain a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee next year when the GOP takes control of the Senate.

This post was updated at 2:27 pm.