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Senate moves to ease limits on travel to Cuba

By Associated Press
Published November 7, 2003

WASHINGTON - The Senate moved on several fronts Thursday to make it easier for Americans to travel to and do business with Cuba, setting up a confrontation with the White House, which says the president will veto any legislation that weakens current U.S. restrictions on such contacts.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 13-5 in favor of legislation to end the Cuba travel ban first imposed by President Kennedy in 1963.

The legislation, sponsored by a bipartisan group headed by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., would bar the president from restricting travel to Cuba, except when the two countries are at war.

Enzi joined Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and others Thursday in urging House and Senate leaders to retain language easing the travel ban that both chambers included in a $90-billion bill to fund Transportation and Treasury department programs in the 2004 budget year.

The White House has threatened a veto if the spending bill includes the Cuba language.

Congressional leaders will also have to decide how to deal with Cuba language included in a $17-billion agriculture and food spending bill being debated by the Senate on Thursday.

The provision would allow visitors to Cuba to bypass a Treasury Department licensing restriction that has complicated efforts to sell food and medicine in Cuba.

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