Digital News Report- A $410 billion spending bill has been passed by the US House of Representatives that will ease the restrictions imposed by the Bush administration on Cuban-Americans’ travel and remittances to Cuba. The measure, which will allow Cuban-Americans to visit their families in Cuba once a year, was passed by a 245-178 vote. Under the Bush administration, families could only travel to the island once every three years.
The bill will also allow Cuban-Americans to spend up to $170 a day while on the island, as opposed to the previous $50 limit. A general travel license for Americans who sell food and medical supplies to Cuba will be created as well.
“Today, we’ve taken compassionate action, because it corrects a measure that restricted visits and, beside that, it sent a message that Congress supports … a change in the policy toward Cuba,” New York Democrat Jose Serrano, who chairs a House budget subcommittee, told EFE on Wednesday.
The bill still needs to pass the Senate, where it faces some opposition. Florida Senator Mel Martinez has threatened to block the bill. “I am very concerned about any efforts to modify our policies toward the Cuban government so long as the authoritarian regime continues to deny basic human rights to its people.”
Traveling to Cuba is still restricted for most US citizens. President Obama has stated that he is reconsidering policy towards Cuba, but is opposed to lifting the 50-year economic embargo.