On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee voted 25-20 to do away with the long-standing restrictions on American citizens visiting Cuba. The vote was largely partisan, the New York Times reports. While the result of the vote seems to indicate the diminished weight of cold war politics, vestiges of such politics were evident in arguments made by both sides.
Democratic Representative Collin C. Peterson, a proponent of the bill, argued that an American tourist presence in Cuba might "show the Cuban people how great Democracy can be."
Meanwhile Representative Tom Rooney, a Republican from Florida and opponent of the bill, said, "Every dollar spent by American tourists in Cuba would contribute to the [Castro] regime’s bottom line."
In April of last year, President Obama allowed Cuban-Americans to visit relatives in Cuba. The Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act would extend the same approval to all U.S. citizens. The bill still must pass through a second House committee, the full House, and the Senate before it can take full effect.