Senate leader says Congress will block some Obama moves on Cuba

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Cuba-US Warming, Hopes of Opening Embassy, Held Up by Fight Over Cuba on Terror List


The top Senate Republican said on Sunday that Congress is likely to block any nominee that President Barack Obama names as ambassador to Cuba and retain broad economic sanctions, even as Obama moves to establish diplomatic and economic ties with the Communist-run island.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, interviewed on the "Fox News Sunday" television program, said the Senate is unlikely to confirm any U.S. ambassador to Havana nominated by Obama.

McConnell added, "There are sanctions that were imposed by Congress. I think the administration will have a hard time getting those removed. This is a policy that there is substantial opposition to in Congress."

10 PHOTOS
American flags in Cuba
See Gallery
Senate leader says Congress will block some Obama moves on Cuba
A man walks past a street vendor's cart with a US flag, in Havana on July 1, 2015. President Barack Obama is expected to unveil today a breakthrough deal with Cuba to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana, officials said, in a major step toward ending decades of Cold war enmity. Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama agreed in December to start formal talks over restoring relations, after months of secret talks between aides. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since 1961. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman wearing a headscarf with a US flag design works at her house in Havana on July 1, 2015. President Barack Obama is expected to unveil today a breakthrough deal with Cuba to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana, officials said, in a major step toward ending decades of Cold war enmity. Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama agreed in December to start formal talks over restoring relations, after months of secret talks between aides. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since 1961. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman sits in a private collective taxi, decorated with Cuban and U.S. flags, in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, April 9 2015. President Barack Obama signaled Thursday he will soon remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, boosting hopes for improved ties as he prepared for a historic encounter with Cuban President Raul Castro during the Summit of the Americas taking place in Panama. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
A pedicab (bicitaxi) adorns a US national flag, in Havana on July 1, 2015. President Barack Obama is expected to unveil today a breakthrough deal with Cuba to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana, officials said, in a major step toward ending decades of Cold war enmity. Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama agreed in December to start formal talks over restoring relations, after months of secret talks between aides. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since 1961. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A girl wearing a top with a US flag design is seen in Havana on July 1, 2015. President Barack Obama is expected to unveil today a breakthrough deal with Cuba to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana, officials said, in a major step toward ending decades of Cold war enmity. Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama agreed in December to start formal talks over restoring relations, after months of secret talks between aides. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since 1961. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Cubans wave Cuban and US flags on June 2, 2015, during a Cuba vs New York Cosmos friendly soccer game in Havana. (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man releases a pigeon next to a US national flag in Havana on July 1, 2015. President Barack Obama is expected to unveil today a breakthrough deal with Cuba to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana, officials said, in a major step toward ending decades of Cold war enmity. Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama agreed in December to start formal talks over restoring relations, after months of secret talks between aides. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since 1961. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A pedicab (bicitaxi) adorns a worn-out US national flag, in Havana on July 1, 2015. President Barack Obama is expected to unveil today a breakthrough deal with Cuba to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana, officials said, in a major step toward ending decades of Cold war enmity. Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama agreed in December to start formal talks over restoring relations, after months of secret talks between aides. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since 1961. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wearing a t-shirt with a US flag design walks along a street of Havana on July 1, 2015. President Barack Obama is expected to unveil today a breakthrough deal with Cuba to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana, officials said, in a major step toward ending decades of Cold war enmity. Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama agreed in December to start formal talks over restoring relations, after months of secret talks between aides. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since 1961. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A Cuban flag and an American flag stand in the press room during the second day of talks between U.S. and Cuban officials, in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. The United States and Cuba are trying to eliminate obstacles to normalized ties as the highest-level U.S. delegation to the communist island in more than three decades holds a second day of talks with Cuban officials. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Last December, Obama announced he would use his executive powers to move toward more normal relations with Cuba after a five-decade standoff.

Those steps have included establishing diplomatic relations, an expansion of some travel from the United States to Cuba, increasing the limit on remittances to Cuban nationals from those living in the United States and expanding some trade in goods and services.

But it would be up to Congress to allow normal travel and full trade.

Republicans control both the Senate and House of Representatives. Many Republican oppose Obama's moves toward better relations with Cuba, claiming they only bolster Cuba's communist leaders. Republicans also fear alienating Cuban Americans in Florida who have fled the island nation and are supporters of the Republican Party.

Obama charted a new U.S. path toward Cuba with the support of some Republicans, including freshman Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Obama said in March his moves were already paying dividends, saying that since December the Cuban government had begun discussing ways to reorganize its economy.

McConnell has been a consistent critic of Obama on a range of foreign policy fronts, including Cuba and U.S. participation in multilateral nuclear talks with Iran.

"This president has been involved in ... talking to a lot of countries: talk, talk, talk. AndCuba is a good example. He thinks that simply by engaging with them we get a positive result," McConnell said, adding, "I don't see any indication that Cubans are going to change their behavior."

Human rights advocates have admonished Cuba for abuses, including arbitrary imprisonment of political opponents, and Cuba's tight control of its economy also has been a lightning rod for criticism.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Read Full Story

People are Reading