Last updated: 01:51 PM ET, Mon July 11 2016

Could a New House Bill Derail People-to-People Travel in Cuba?

Destination & Tourism | Michael Schottey | July 11, 2016

Could a New House Bill Derail People-to-People Travel in Cuba?

PHOTO: U.S. Capitol Building (Photo courtesy of ThinkStock)

Upcoming travel to Cuba could be impacted thanks to a financial services bill that just passed the United States House of Representatives.

The general thrust of the bill funds a variety of services and government agencies, but hidden in the fine print is a number of prohibitions having to do with travel to Cuba. President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with the country and visited the island nation earlier in 2016, and the government has been slowly easing travel restrictions.

The language of this bill indicates that the House would like to create a few more restrictions, including:

• A prohibition on travel to Cuba for certain educational exchanges

• A prohibition on the importation of property confiscated by the Cuban Government

• A prohibition on financial transactions with the Cuban military or intelligence service

• A prohibition on funds to approve the licensing of a mark, trade name, or commercial name that was confiscated by the Cuban Government without express consent

The restrictions are not entirely unexpected as Congress has largely bristled at the Obama administration’s opening of Cuba, and most of these are hedges between a soon-to-be-booming Cuban tourism industry and a government that the legislative branch doesn’t want to be seen as endorsing.

However, The Hill reports that President Obama has threated to veto this bill, not because of Cuban travel, but because it massively underfunds various pieces of the government. The Senate has passed a similar bill recently which more closely maintains current levels of spending.

More negotiation will follow before a final bill reaches the president’s desk, but prospective travelers to Cuba will want to follow the process closely. 

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