Senate votes to ease Cuba travel limits

Oct. 23, 2003 at 7:49 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate voted 59-38 Thursday to ease travel limits placed on Americans wishing to visit Cuba, delivering a blow to the Bush administration.

The overwhelming vote came less than two weeks after President Bush announced he wanted to tighten Cuban travel restrictions.

The New York Times said Thursday's Senate action, along with previously House passage of a similar bill, highlights a widening split between farm-state Republicans, who oppose trade sanctions in general, and Cuban-American leaders, whom the White House views as essential to the president's political strength in Florida.

Several influential Republican senators voted against the president, including John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the armed services committee, and Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the intelligence committee. Also voting against the president were Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.

The amendment's co-sponsor, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., criticized what he termed America's "stranglehold" on Cuba, saying: "Unilateral sanctions stop not just the flow of goods, but the flow of ideas. Ideas of freedom and democracy are the keys to positive change in any nation."

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