Treasury Appropriations Bill Tightens Cuba Sanctions

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
The House Appropriations Committee has just released its FY 2016 Financial Services Appropriations bill.

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

As the bill's summary highlights, it contains the following prohibitions:

Cuba – 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 would effectively terminate "people-to-people" trips, which have been a guise for illegal tourism transactions; prohibit all transactions with entities owned or operated by the Cuban military and security services; and prohibit the importation of stolen property by travelers, namely confiscated rum and cigar products.

This is the fourth must-pass Appropriations bill with Cuba limitations.

Also, 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.

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.

And 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.