Posts in Max Baucus
Yesterday afternoon, the House Foreign Affairs Committee postponed a much-anticipated vote on legislation that would end the Cuba travel ban and ease restrictions on food exports to the island. In a statement Committee Chairman Howard Berman said:
“The Committee had been scheduled to consider this legislation tomorrow, but it now appears that Wednesday will be the last day that Congress is in session before an extended district work period. That makes it increasingly likely that our discussion of the bill will be disrupted or cut short by votes or other activity on the House floor. Accordingly, I am postponing consideration of H.R. 4645 until a time when the Committee will be able to hold the robust and uninterrupted debate this important issue deserves. I firmly believe that when we debate and vote on the merits of this legislation, and I intend for it to be soon, the right to travel will be restored to all Americans.”
Unfortunately, Berman simply ran out of time. Which is all the more disappointing when you take into account the leviathon coalition put together by the bill's main sponsor, Collin Peterson, and then expanded by Berman in the months following Peterson's June markup of the bill. In the 48 hours before the expected vote alone, supporters were everywhere at once. Tuesday, a group of retired high-ranking military officials sent a letter to the Committee urging it to repeal the travel ban, the National Farmers Union reminded the Committee of its support for the bill, and human rights watchdogs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch - whom you might expect to take the opposing view - sent appeals to the Committee in favor of the bill. Yesterday, General Paul Eaton (ret.), a senior advisor to the National Security Network, penned a pro-travel rights commentary for The Hill, and Cuba Study Group Chairman Carlos Saladrigas of Miami authored a stirring opinion in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (the paper read by new Rep. Ted Deutsch and his constituents). And General John Adams (ret.) penned a persuasive column in today's Rockford Register Star (the hometown paper of one of the committee's members). And those are just the endorsements that I came across.
So where does all that momentum go from here? Two thoughts.