House Committee Passes Fifth Bill Tightening Cuba Sanctions

Thursday, July 16, 2015
This week, the House Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2016 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.

The bill funds the operations of the Homeland Security Department, which includes U.S. Customs.

The bill contains the following Cuba-related prohibition, which opponents were (once again) unsuccessful in trying to remove:

"SEC. 559. (a) None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to approve, license, facilitate, authorize, or otherwise allow the trafficking or import of property confiscated by the Cuban Government.

(b) In this section, the terms ‘confiscated’, ‘Cuban Government’, ‘property’, and ‘traffic’ have the meanings give such terms in paragraphs (4), (5), (12)(A), and (13), respectively, of section 4 of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (2216 14 U.S.C. 6023)."

This common-sense provision would prohibit U.S. travelers from bringing back -- pursuant to the Obama Administration's new regulations -- products that are subject to stolen trademarks in Cuba.

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

Two of these bill have already passed the entire 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 Operation Appropriations 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.

Also, the Financial Services Appropriations bill, which funds the operations of the Treasury Department, would effectively terminate "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.