Durbin Introduces Bill To End Cuba Embargo And Establish Normal Trade Relations

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to introduce the U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2017, which would repeal outdated sanctions on Cuba and establish normal trade relations with the island nation. 

“Ending the embargo is about more than opening the country up to American businesses and travel—it’s about opening Cuba to new ideas, new values, and improved human rights that our 50 year old policy of isolation could not achieve,” said Durbin. “While we must be realistic about the prospects for Congressional action to fully lift the embargo on Cuba when a single senator can scuttle it, the American people are ready for this change and my colleagues and I are committed to getting it done.   

The U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2017 would repeal the major statutes that codify sanctions against Cuba, including the Helms-Burton Act and the Cuban Democracy Act, as well as other provisions that impact trade, investment, and travel with Cuba.  It would also establish normal trade relations with the country. 

The International Trade Commission found in 2016 that easing U.S. restrictions on trade and business with Cuba could increase U.S. exports by $1.4 billion annually in the next five years, with even bigger gains possible.  

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) co-sponsored the legislation.

Last month, Durbin introduced a bipartisan resolution honoring the legacy of the Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, and calling for an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death. Payá, an outspoken activist for free speech, democracy, and human rights, died in a car crash on July 22, 2012