WASHINGTON — Rep. Collin Peterson’s bill to end the Cuban travel embargo and ease restrictions on agricultural experts to the communist island nation will die from lack of action, Peterson and Democratic leadership sources confirmed this week.
Asked if his bill still had a hope of passage, Peterson replied, “Nope, they won’t bring it up.” Peterson has predicted in the past that the bill has the votes on the floor of the House, and although it cleared his House Agriculture Committee, it stalled in the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“They’re bringing up all this other stuff that’s not going to pass, you know, they found a way to bring up the DREAM act that’s got no chance in the Senate, it’s crazy,” he said.
A senior House Democratic aide said the bill’s prospects are “very doubtful this year. We couldn’t get it out of committee.” A senior Senate aide was more blunt, saying there was not a snowball’s chance in hell that it’ll be coming up, as Senate leaders were looking to trim the priority list, not expand it.
Cuba currently imports almost $52 million in agricultural products from Minnesota every year, a number that analysts say could double or triple with eased trade restrictions. However, opponents including New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (who has pledged to filibuster Peterson’s bill if it ever gets to the floor of his chamber) say easing the Cuban embargo would embolden an “oppressive” regime in that country.