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Does The 'Freedom To Travel To Cuba Act' Have a Chance?

December 23, 2009 at 2:59 PM | by | ()

We alluded to the Cuba travel embargo this morning in our Biggest Hotspot Of The Decade post, and rumors of its imminent demise have certainly been picking up. Reuters reported last week that travel industry insiders—the people who have a financial incentive to be on the cutting edge—are gearing up for Congress to lift travel restrictions.

Not coincidentally there's a bill winding its way through Congress that aims to do exactly that. The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act seems to be within striking distance of passing the House and it's lined up some powerful figures in the Senate. Obviously travel industry blogs are keeping an extremely close eye on the legislation, and Travel Agent Central has a nice survey of the political landscape:

A bill to end the travel ban, sponsored by Democrat Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts and Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, has 195 backers in the House of Representatives, 23 votes short, supporters of the measure said. Similar legislation in the Senate has the support of key senators such as Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana, but needs 60 votes to pass. No action on the bill is expected until the spring.

Yeah, listen. This isn't going to happen. We understand that there are economic, political, and maybe even moral arguments for why it should happen. We understand that the industry wants it and that there are some polls which indicate public support. But it's not going to happen.

First and most simply, it's an election year and nothing controversial happens during election years. By the time spring rolls around there won't even be anyone in DC to take the vote. If there was a vote it's to pass. Of those 195 backers in the House, 15-20 are only "supporters" because they know they'll never have to prove it on the record. On the other side of Capitol Hill, being close to 60 votes in the Senate doesn't get you anything. Ask supporters of the public option.

There's also some inside baseball stuff going on in the Florida Senate race—key anti-Castro Republicans are peeling away from GOP frontrunner Crist who will eventually become a Democrat and then Congressional Dems will need to give him cover—but we don't need to get into that. Suffice it to say that anything scheduled for "spring 2010" might as well be scheduled for "spring 2011" because that's the first time it could see the light of day. And given the anti-incumbency wave sweeping the country, predicting anything about the next Congress is just silly. So keep drinking those "Cuba Libres," but it's all wishful thinking for now.

[Photo: Mr. Philip Gabrielsen / Wiki Commons]

Related Stories:
· Report: U.S. Travel Industry Gearing Up for Return to Cuba [Travel Agent Central]
· Cuba Coverage [Jaunted]
· Travel Politics Coverage [Jaunted]

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