Bipartisanship With a Caribbean Twist

Lee, who at one time was rumored to be interested in being the envoy to Cuba, is part of the bipartisan Cuba Working Group. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are coming together to launch a Havana-friendly working group, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of U.S. and Cuban leaders' pledge to open up relations between the two countries.  

In a letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the soon-to-be bipartisan Cuba Working Group wrote, “We believe that American interests are served through greater engagement with Cuban society.” Republicans Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, Ted Poe of Texas and Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and Democrats Kathy Castor of Florida, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Sam Farr and Barbara Lee of California, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Nydia M. Velázquez of New York plan to take on the contentious topic and build a new policy framework for the U.S.-Cuba relationship.  

On Dec. 17, 2014, President Barack Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro announced they would start normalizing relations.  

Their strategy includes meetings with experts on the Caribbean island, roundtables and attention to how changes are opening new opportunities for commercial, diplomatic and people-to-people relationships.  

A year ago, rumors spread that Lee wanted to be U.S. ambassador to Cuba. She dismissed the talk that she and Obama had an agreement.  

On the other side of the aisle, Emmer sponsored a bill to lift the trade embargo on Cuba (HR 3238) with co-sponsors who included Cramer, Crawford, Ribble, Sanford and Castor.

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