12.16.15

New Bipartisan Cuba Working Group Announced

Congresswoman Barbara Lee to Serve on Steering Committee

Washington, D.C. – Today, a bipartisan group of twelve Members of Congress announced the formation of a Cuba Working Group to develop policies that modernize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a long-time leader in efforts to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba, will serve on the Working Group’s Steering Committee.

“The formation of this bipartisan Working Group is another step forward in the effort to finally end more than fifty years of failed policy and open a new chapter in relations between our nation and our Cuban neighbors,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The President has shown bold leadership in ending failed U.S. isolationist policies toward Cuba. It’s past time for Congress to follow his lead by repealing the embargo and lifting the travel ban.”

The group announced its formation in a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

The Steering Committee writes: “Increasingly, the American people are indicating their desire for a new, more pragmatic approach to Cuba. More people are traveling from the U.S. to Cuba, more businesses are looking for opportunity on the island, and more sectors are eager for trade. The bi-partisan Cuba Working Group will promote a U.S.-Cuba policy that reflects the interests of the American people in engagement with Cuba.”

They conclude stating, “Our goal is to raise the level of understanding inside of Congress for the need to build a new policy framework for U.S.-Cuban relations.”

The Members of the Steering Committee include Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswomen Kathy Castor (D-FL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Congressmen Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Sam Farr (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Reid Ribble (R-WI) and Mark Sanford (R-SC.)

BACKGROUND

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Lee attended the re-opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C. and the re-opening of the American Embassy in Havana. Congresswoman Lee has been working on U.S.-Cuba policy since 1977 and has traveled to the island more than 20 times, leading several Congressional delegations. Congresswoman Lee is proudly co-sponsoring the bipartisan Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 664) to lift the travel ban and the Free Trade with Cuba Act (H.R. 403) to end the embargo. Learn more about the Congresswoman’s work by reading her nationally syndicated OpEd.

###

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.