Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Introduces Cuba Travel Bill

In the House of Representatives, Congressman Mark Sanford (SC-01) and Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) will introduce on Monday the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015.” It is the companion bill to its Senate counterpart introduced today by Jeff Flake (AZ) and Patrick Leahy (VT). The bill simply removes the travel ban to Cuba that has been in place for more than 50 years.

Doing so is important because President Obama’s lifting of the travel ban might last only for the remaining 23 months of his Presidency, while every American’s constitutionally guaranteed right to travel should last through the whole of one’s life.

Our Founding Fathers were very deliberate in constructing the Fifth Amendment to promise liberty to every American citizen, and the most basic of all liberties rests in the right to come and go without the sanction and control of government. The Treasury Department’s travel restrictions were born of the Cold War and the threat of Communism in the early 1960’s. They were put in place in 1963 and given that this time has passed, so too should this travel moratorium. Cuba currently is the only country on earth to which our federal government prohibits travel.

“Unless there is an overwhelming threat to national security, every United States citizen has the constitutional right to free travel as they, not the federal government, see fit. In this regard, I believe this issue is important in the unending fight to protect and defend American liberties too often threatened by federal power,” Sanford said.

Rep. McGovern added, “The travel ban has long been among the worst of a misguided set of Cuba policies. The notion that the United States government can tell law-abiding, tax-paying citizens where they can and cannot travel is deeply offensive to our principles and our heritage.”

Co-sponsor Rep. Jason Chaffetz said, “In a post-Cold War world, a travel-ban policy is outdated and should not exist. This is a freedom issue. Americans should be allowed to make travel decisions on their own without the government telling them where they can and cannot go.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, a co-sponsor of this bill, remarked, “Lifting the travel ban is a matter of personal freedom. Americans should have the right to travel to Cuba, just like to any other country.”

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