The snowball effect of Cuba travel is already being felt in the U.S. Senate. The officialcongressional website reveals that 51 out of 100 U.S. senators support the elimination of laws and regulations that prevent U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba. A majority of U.S. senators favor the Freedom to Travel Act of 2015 co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake (Arizona) and Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy (Vermont).
If passed, the law would also permit tourist travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba, something that is not currently allowed. For passage, the bill would have to get the OK from the Senate who then would send it to the House of Representatives where there are currently 127 of 435 representative co-sponsoring legislation similar to the senate bill. Cuba followers predict that the law currently would be favored in the House; but this is not as clear as in the Senate.
In a report by the news agency Efe, James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a coalition of companies and organizations against the Cuban embargo, was quoted as saying that “There has never been as much support for a bill on Cuba. Now we can say firmly that a majority in the Senate supports it.” He adds that the legislation should pass the Senate vote in the coming months.
U.S. citizen can currently travel to Cuba only if they fall under 12 categories stipulated by law, which restricts travel to family visits, humanitarian travel, and others.
On Thursday (May 26) during a question and answer session on twitter, Cuban Ambassador to the U.S. Jose R. Cabañas said that he agreed that most Americans feel that the travel ban to Cuba should be lifted. He added, “At present there is a debate in Congress, in the House and the Senate. Some believe that a decision is in order in the short term and others feel that it could take a little longer, but it is a priority topic of discussion at the moment.”
Interestingly, an unscientific poll was held by El Nuevo Herald asking if the lifting of the embargo would bring about positive results for Cubans on the island. A majority of 58.41% (802 votes) had answered yes. Five hundred seventy-one voters or 41.59% had answered no as of Friday morning.