House Committee Passes Fourth Bill Tightening Cuba Sanctions

Thursday, June 18, 2015
This morning, the House Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2016 Financial Services Appropriations bill.

This bill funds the operations of the Treasury Department, including the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC").

The bill contains three Cuban-related prohibitions, which opponents were (once again) unsuccessful in trying to remove:

"A prohibition on travel to Cuba for educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program, a prohibition on the importation of property confiscated by the Cuban Government, and a prohibition on financial transactions with the Cuban military or intelligence service."

In other words, it effectively terminates "people-to-people" trips, which have been a guise for illegal tourism transactions; prohibits all transactions with entities owned or operated by the Cuban military and security services; and prohibits the importation of stolen property by travelers, namely confiscated rum and cigar products.

This is the fourth bill to pass the House Appropriations Committee, which altogether contain nearly a dozen provisions challenging President Obama's Cuba policy.

Two of these bill have already passed the whole U.S. House of Representatives, which tighten sanctions towards Cuba:

The Commerce, Justice Appropriations bill contains a provision (supported by a vote of 273-153) ensuring that none of the exports authorized under the Obama Administration's new "Support for the Cuban People" category (under Commerce Department regulations) can be funneled through entities owned or controlled by the Castro regime's military or security services.

And the Transportation Appropriations bill contains language (supported by a vote of 247-176) prohibiting the use of confiscated property for new travel -- by airplane or vessels -- to Cuba.

Still awaiting floor consideration, the State Department, Foreign Operations bill contains key provisions that prohibit funds for an embassy or other diplomatic facility in Cuba, beyond what was in existence prior to the President’s December announcement proposing changes to the U.S.-Cuba policy. It also restricts funds to facilitate the opening of a Cuban embassy in the U.S., increases democracy assistance and international broadcasting to Cuba, and provides direction to the Secretary of State on denying the issuance of visas to members of the Cuban military and the Communist party.