“The changes to Cuba policy contained in the omnibus appropriations bill are small but important. By including these measures in the bill, Congress demonstrated its willingness to ease provisions of the embargo on Cuba for the first time in eight years. By its action, Congress has opened the door to further policy change on Cuba and has charted a course for such changes.”
Cuba provisions in the FY2009 omnibus appropriations bill
Prepared by USA*Engage, www.usaengage.org
The omnibus appropriations bill contains language that would amend the Trade Sanctions Reform Act to authorize travel for commercial sales under a general license, and defund enforcement of 1) the 2005 Bush administration changes to the rules governing “cash in advance” payments and 2) travel to visit family members.
http://www.rules.house.gov/111/LegText/omni/text/divdtext_111_hromni2009_jes.pdf at Page 109:
SEC. 620. Section 910(a) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7209(a)) is amended to read as follows:
“(a) AUTHORIZATION OF TRAVEL RELATING TO COMMERCIAL SALES OF AGRICULTURAL AND MEDICAL GOODS.-The Secretary of the Treasury shall promulgate regulations under which the travel-related transactions listed in paragraph (c) of section 515.560 of title 31, Code of Federal Regulations, are authorized by general license for travel to, from, or within Cuba for the marketing and sale of agricultural and medical goods pursuant to the provisions of this title.”
Explanation: Current law permits specific licenses to be issued for “certain export transactions.” The omnibus provision makes explicit the ability to travel to Cuba for “marketing and sale” and allows travel under a general license, by which travelers self-determine their eligibility and may travel to Cuba without seeking individual authorization rather than under a “specific license” which requires an individual to apply for approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
SEC. 621. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to administer, implement, or enforce the amendments made to section 515.560 and section 515.561 of title 31, Code of Federal Regulations, related to travel to visit relatives in Cuba, that were published in the Federal Register on June 16, 2004.
Explanation: This provision does not change current law. It “de-funds,” or prohibits, the U.S. Government from enforcing current law with respect to the above-referenced provision until the spending bill expires. The policy it seeks to address involves changes made by the Bush administration to restrict the ability of Cuban Americans to visit family members in Cuba. The rules published on June 16, 2004 narrowed the definition of family, limited visits to 14 days once every three years, removed the exception to the regulations that allowed additional visits for humanitarian reasons, and require Cuban Americans to apply for a specific license for each visit to Cuba rather than traveling under a general license as was the case prior to June 2004.
SEC. 622. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to administer, implement, or enforce the amendment made to section 515.533 of title 31, Code of Federal Regulations, that was published in the Federal Register on February 25, 2005.
Explanation: This provision does not change current law. It “de-funds,” or prohibits, the U.S. Government from enforcing current law with respect to the above-referenced provision until the spending bill expires. The policy it seeks to address involves terms of payment governing shipments of U.S. exports to Cuba. The February 25, 2005 amendment altered the terms of “payment of cash in advance.” The current definition “means that payment is received by the seller or the seller’s agent prior to shipment of the goods from the port at which they are loaded.” Prior policy allowed payment before delivering goods to the Cuban purchaser, but after shipment.
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