Senate Eyes Lifting All Travel Bans to Cuba

But Cuban-American senator fights colleagues to block it
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2009 10:24 AM CDT
Senate Eyes Lifting All Travel Bans to Cuba
Soldiers wave Cuban flags in Havana, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. Banner at back reads in Spanish "Long Live Fidel".   (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

A bipartisan group of senators is set to introduce a new bill on US-Cuban relations tomorrow that would remove all legal barriers to traveling to the island, reports the Washington Post. The bill goes far beyond earlier efforts to relax travel restrictions and enjoys support from committee leaders, top Republicans, and the White House. But it has to get past the angry opposition of Bob Menendez, the Cuban-American senator from New Jersey, who told fellow legislators: "Let's duke it out on the floor."

Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, the lead author of the Senate bill, said that reform of Cuban policy is "all over but the shouting." But Menendez is fighting hard to stop any relaxation, going so far as to hold up some of President Obama's appointments. Democrats are annoyed by his stubborn stance on a bill with wide party support, but the New Jersey senator insists that his position is "both heartfelt and principled." (More Bob Menendez stories.)

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