The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday urged a House committee to approve legislation that would ease travel and trade restrictions with Cuba.
The business group sent a letter to the leaders of the Foreign Affairs Committee to advance the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which is sponsored by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).
Bruce Josten, the chambers executive vice president for government affairs, wrote to Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), that sanctions against Cuba have only helped prop up the communist Castro regime.
It is doubtful the Cuban dictatorship could have withstood a half century of free trade, free markets, and free enterprise, Josten wrote in the letter. It is time to end the unproductive preoccupation with an aging and moribund communist regime, and begin to lay the groundwork for a U.S. role in the future of Cuba.
The measure, which has already been approved by the House Agriculture Committee, would reverse a longtime ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba and allow American commodities to be sold directly to the island nation.
It has the support of business and farm groups but is opposed by some human rights groups and many Republicans, who argue the U.S. should not reward the government of brothers Fidel and Raúl Castro.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.