Posts in Elliot Engel

Will Ily Intimidate Obama on Cuba?

The Minnesota Post reports that Rep. Collin Peterson has acknowledged that his bill to lift the Cuba travel ban and facilitate food exports to the island will die at the end of this Congress.

Asked if his bill still had a hope of passage, Peterson replied, "Nope, they won't bring it up." Peterson has predicted in the past that the bill has the votes on the floor of the House, and although it cleared his House Agriculture Committee, it stalled in the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"They're bringing up all this other stuff that's not going to pass, you know, they found a way to bring up the DREAM act that's got no chance in the Senate, it's crazy," he said.

He’s got a point there.  This bill would have the votes (which the Senate companion bill’s chief sponsor, Byron Dorgan, said he has) to break a Senate filibuster.  But can anyone remember the last actual filibuster to take place in the Senate? Nowadays all you have to do is threaten. 

As this Congress draws to a close, and Peterson’s effort with it, The Miami Herald’s Lesley Clark blogs on who’s got plenty of reason to celebrate – the pro-embargo U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC.  The PAC will hold its annual luncheon, celebrating its allies in Congress, who will now include Marco Rubio in the Senate, and David Rivera in the House (and don't forget, Ily, as Democrat and felllow Committee member Eliot Engel affectionately calls her, will now chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mario Diaz-Balart will land a seat on Appropriations).

"It's a three pronged celebration," said PAC director Mauricio Claver-Carone, noting that Lincoln Diaz-Balart would be thanked for his service and Rubio and Rivera welcomed to Congress. And three? "Having survived the 111th Congress."

At the start of this Congress nearly years ago, embargo fans were indeed staring down the barrel of a gun: a newly elected President who’d been critical of the embargo and won Florida without a majority of its Cuban American votes, flanked by a Democratic-controlled House and Senate, chock full of Cuba policy reformers whose day (you’d think) had finally come. Afterall, hardliners came so close to losing the travel ban battle in the early 2000’s that the near misses inspired creation of the PAC to shore up support for the embargo.  

So where does that leave the reformers?