Peterson’s Cuba trade/travel bill postponed

WASHINGTON — Rep. Collin Peterson’s legislation to lift the Cuba travel ban and ease agricultural export rules to the communist island nation was delayed again today, as House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman postponed a markup on the bill that had been scheduled for Wednesday.

Berman explained the delay thusly:

“The Committee had been scheduled to consider this legislation tomorrow, but it now appears that Wednesday will be the last day that Congress is in session before an extended district work period. That makes it increasingly likely that our discussion of the bill will be disrupted or cut short by votes or other activity on the House floor. Accordingly, I am postponing consideration of H.R. 4645 until a time when the Committee will be able to hold the robust and uninterrupted debate this important issue deserves. I firmly believe that when we debate and vote on the merits of this legislation, and I intend for it to be soon, the right to travel will be restored to all Americans.”

When Berman scheduled the hearing last week it was widely assumed that the bill had the votes to clear his committee — indeed bill sponsor Peterson had said the bill would only be scheduled if it had the votes in advance.

Yet an analysis by Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill said the bill doesn’t have the needed 24 votes to clear the 47-member Foreign Affairs committee. Some 16 members are committed ayes, five are certain nays and the rest haven’t commented on it publicly.

For more on the legislation itself and its potential effect on Minnesota agriculture, click here.

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