GOP spending bill would restrict travel to Cuba

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House Republicans introduced a fiscal 2016 spending bill Tuesday that includes a rider limiting travel from the United States to Cuba, an effort to torpedo the Obama administration’s move to normalize relations with Havana.

A measure in the bill funding the Transportation Department and Housing and Urban Development Department would block funding for new scheduled air transportation from the U.S. if any flights would land on or pass through property confiscated by the Cuban government.

Another provision would block funding to the Federal Maritime Commission or the administrator of the Maritime Administration to issue a license or certification to any vessel that had docked within the last 180 days within 7 miles of a port on property confiscated by the Cuban government.

{mosads}Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), a Cuban-American, has adamantly opposed the administration’s new moves to ease relations with Cuba. Diaz-Balart is chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that released the bill.

The riders come just a few months after President Obama laid out a new policy toward the Communist nation, including loosening travel restrictions to Cuba. They also signal a looming fight between congressional Republicans and the White House later this year over government funding.

Under the new policy, the travel embargo remains in place, but the administration is making it easier for people to obtain licenses to travel to Cuba.

After the policy was unveiled late last year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he would block federal funds from financing a future U.S. embassy in Cuba. It’s unclear whether he intends to pursue that goal. 

Obama shook hands in a historic meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro for the first time in early April.

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