Lawmakers Propose Bill to Ease Travel to Cuba

A group of House lawmakers has introduced a bipartisan bill that would open Cuba's borders to Americans and overturn long-standing U.S. policy, which severely restricts travel to the island nation.

The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, introduced on February 4, would grant U.S. citizens and legal residents the right to visit Cuba. Also, Cuban exiles living in the United States would be free to travel to Cuba and send money to family still on the island.

One provision of the bill states "the President may not regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly, travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents, or any of the transactions incident to such travel."

Under current law, few Americans can travel to the island legally.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-MA., and co-sponsored by eight others, including former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX. The measure has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

During the Bush administration, a bill introduced in the Senate called the "Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2007" contained the same exact language as the legislation introduced last week. It died in committee.

President Obama, during his presidential campaign, spoke about the need to reexamine U.S. foreign policy with regard to Cuba, saying that the embargo has not helped bring democracy to the communist nation.

For more on this topic, see European editor James Suckling's latest blog.

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