Obama Threatens Veto Over Cuba Provisions in House Bill
It is customary for an administration to send to Congress a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) after committee consideration and before a floor vote, with warnings over provisions the administration wants to see removed. How do you ensure a provision's removal? Threaten to veto the bill over it. No committee chairman wants to see his bill go down over just one provision in it, so the tactic usually works.
President Bush repeatedly threatened to veto spending bills that had Cuba policy reforms included in them. In 2003, both the Republican House and the Republican Senate included identical language in a bill that would have stopped enforcement of the U.S. travel ban on Cuba. But once the president threatened to veto, the Republican leaders struck the offending provision from the bill - which, of course, saved the president from having to follow through on his threat.
This week, the Obama administration offered up its own veto threat over Cuba policy. It sent over a SAP with the following warning:
The Administration strongly opposes a number of provisions in this bill. If the President is presented with a bill that undermines either the Affordable Care Act or the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act through funding limits or other restrictions, or reverses current policies on Cuba, his senior advisors would recommend a veto.
The warning is so sharp and unambiguous, it's something of a shock for Cuba watchers. Afterall, on Cuba, this administration hasn't exactly stepped confidently to the plate (gosh, more like it didn't even swing most chances it got at bat). This SAP is something else. It's the closest this administration has gotten to appearing to have a policy on Cuba and sticking to it. And if you're wondering whether Obama is bluffing - don't bother. They'll say it's good policy (and it is), but it's also good politics . . . in Florida.