A bipartisan bill that would open the door to unfettered travel to Cuba was introduced in Congress last week, in the hopes that recent political changes in Washington will spill over to U.S. policy toward the island.
The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, introduced Feb. 4 and referred to the Foreign Relations Committee, prohibits the U.S. president from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. residents, except in times of war between the two countries or of imminent danger to public health or the safety of U.S. travelers.
It was introduced by a group of representatives led by William Delahunt, D-Mass.
The bill or amendments like it have become a staple in Washington, where the measures flopped in the face of veto threats. Last year, a similar bill had more than 100 sponsors. But with more Democrats in Congress and a new president – one who has vowed to lift some of former President George W. Bush's restrictions on Cuban family travel – the climate could be different.
"It's too early to tell how this will do because Congress is dealing with the economic package, but I think the conditions are good for it," said Phil Peters, a Cuba expert at the Lexington Institute think tank who supports changes to Cuba policy. "The veto threat is gone and Obama has signaled that he is interested in revamping policy. I am not making any predictions, but is it a bill that gets introduced every year and has no chance? No."
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