Thursday, June 28, 2007

House Amends Spending Bill to Ease Cuba Trade Restrictions

Congressional Quarterly

June 28, 2007 – 2:04 p.m.

Defying a White House veto threat, the House today agreed to relax restrictions on agricultural trade with Cuba as it moved toward passage of a spending bill funding federal fiscal entities.

By voice vote, the House adopted an amendment by Jerry Moran, R-Kan., that would block the Treasury Department from enforcing a rule that has effectively limited agricultural sales to Cuba. The rule requires payments for U.S. goods to be made before a ship leaves port. It replaced an earlier regulation that allowed U.S. firms to accept payment after the goods were received in Cuba.

Moran said the current restriction is “disruptive” to the U.S. economy and hurts the country’s reputation as an exporter because it slows the flow of agricultural goods.

The administration has threatened to veto the fiscal 2008 Financial Services and General Government spending measure (HR 2829) if the language blocking enforcement of the Cuba trade restriction remains in it. President Bush has repeatedly rebuffed attempts to normalize relations with Cuba.

The $43.9 billion fiscal 2008 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill includes $21.4 billion in discretionary spending. It would provide funding for the Treasury Department, a variety of independent and executive branch agencies, and the District of Columbia.

More than 50 amendments were submitted. A series of votes on the most contentious ones, including attempts by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to strip certain earmarks from the bill, were expected this afternoon.

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