Saturday, July 9, 2016

House Speaker Torpedoes Freedom to Travel

Travel Amendment Withdrawn Due to Speaker Ryan

From Congressional Record

  The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 47
printed in House Report 114-639.
  Mr. SANFORD. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the
       Sec. _.  None of the funds made available in this Act may
     be used to administer or enforce part 515 of title 31, Code
     of Federal Regulations (the Cuban Assets Control Regulations)
     or section 910(b) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export
     Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7209(b)) with respect to
     any travel or travel-related transaction. The limitation
     described in this section shall not apply in the case of the
     administration of a tax or tariff.

  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 794, the gentleman
from South Carolina (Mr. Sanford) and a Member opposed each will
control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from South Carolina.
  Mr. SANFORD. Mr. Chairman, I want to be clear that in just a few
moments, I am going to be withdrawing my amendment.
  Before I do so, I just want to say a couple of things because this
amendment was a very simple and straightforward amendment that did
nothing more than allow Americans to travel to Cuba, which is to say
this amendment ultimately was about American liberty.
  We just heard a long conversation about Iran, and yet, as an

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you can travel to Iran. You could travel to Syria. You could travel to
North Korea. There is no prohibition for any other place on the globe,
except for one, and that is Cuba. And that may have made sense 50 years
  The reality of today is that it does not make sense today. And so
this has ultimately been about American liberty. It has been about the
bundle of rights that come with liberty. The Supreme Court has said
that as real as the food that we eat or the clothes that we wear or the
books that we read, the ability to choose where you come and go, where
you travel to, is an American liberty.
  So Jefferson said 200 years ago that the normal course of things was
for government to gain ground and for liberty to yield. And I think it
is very, very important wherein we run into policies that have outlived
their usefulness, that may have made sense 50 years, that don't make
sense today, that we push back against them. That is what this
amendment was about and, again, affording people the true American way,
which is to travel as they choose, not as government sees.
  Two, it is about bringing change. I signed on to the original Helms-
Burton language. The definition of insanity is continuing the same
process and expecting a different result. We have tried this approach
for 50 years. We have the longest-serving dictatorship in the world in
the form of the Castro brothers in Cuba. And it would seem to me, if it
hadn't worked in 50 years, might we not trying something different?
  It was Ronald Reagan that encouraged engagement. In fact, that has
been the policy of this country. So I don't like what goes on in Russia
or in China or in Vietnam, but we allow Americans to travel there,
believing that that personal diplomacy is part of changing those
  Finally, this is about government regulation. It is interesting that
we are at the eve of real connections, real flights going down to Cuba.
But we will have to sign affidavits. We will have to store records for
5 years. We will be subject to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in
penalties if we fill out a form wrong. And so this is also about easing
government regulation.
  So, in my closing, I would just like to say a couple of thoughts. I
want to thank Kevin Cramer, Tom Emmer, Rick Crawford, Ted Poe, Jim
McGovern, Kathy Castor, Barbara Lee, and about 130 other Members of
this House who signed on to this bill. I want to thank Senators Jeff
Flake, Jerry Moran, Mike Enzi, and others over on the Senate side.
  I want to thank the U.S. Chamber, who is going to key vote this vote
tonight, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Washington
Office of Latin America, Engage Cuba, the Farm Bureau, the Americans
for Tax Reform, and a long list of others who said that this is
something that makes sense.
  Finally, I want to say, there is real momentum. As I just mentioned,
just today U.S. transportation is outlining eight airlines that will be
able to travel to Cuba. Last night, I think there was something of a
deal struck between ag interests and the ability to export product or a
deal that will be formed in exporting product to Cuba. I think that
makes sense.
  Given the fact that the Speaker is working against this amendment, I 
see the handwriting on the wall. I think it best to withdraw, so that
is exactly what I am going to do.
  Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman
from South Carolina.
  There was no objection.
  The Acting CHAIR. The amendment is withdrawn.

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