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U.S. House panel seeks to ban funding for U.S. embassy in Cuba
June 2, 2015 / 2:09 PM / 2 years ago

U.S. House panel seeks to ban funding for U.S. embassy in Cuba

The Cuban flag flies in front of the U.S. Interests Section (background), in Havana May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A proposed U.S. House of Representatives appropriations bill released on Tuesday would prohibit funds for an American embassy or other diplomatic facility in Cuba beyond what existed before President Barack Obama’s December announcement that he would move to normalize relations with Havana.

Members of Congress have been trying to roll back the shift in Cuba policy, but all such proposals face a tough fight to become law. Separately, the White House said on Tuesday it would veto a transportation bill that included a measure to roll back Obama’s moves to ease travel to the Communist-ruled island.

The appropriations bill released on Tuesday would restrict funds to facilitate the opening of a Cuban embassy in the United States, increase democracy assistance and international broadcasting to Cuba and provide direction to the State Department on denying visas to members of the Cuban military and Communist Party.

Some members of Congress, led mostly by Republican Cuban-American lawmakers, have objected to the U.S. shift in Cuba policy. They want Cuba’s government to do more to improve human rights on the island, release U.S. fugitives living in Cuba and allow free elections before easing restrictions on trade, travel and diplomatic relations.

Since Congress controls government spending, these members have pledged to use appropriations legislation to try to block the initiative by Obama, a Democrat.

“I think we have been very clear with our challenges with what’s gone on in Cuba, from human rights, from what’s happened there, and we have a difference of opinion with the administration and we have a right to express it,” Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House Majority Leader, said at a news conference.

The United States formally dropped Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism last Friday, an important step toward restoring diplomatic ties but one that will have a limited effect on removing U.S. sanctions on the Communist-ruled island.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Will Dunham, James Dalgleish and David Gregorio

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