Will the next Congress lift the Cuba embargo?

When President Barack Obama announced last week his intent to begin normalizing relations with Cuba, he acknowledged his powers were limited and that only Congress could lift the half-century embargo against Cuba. But he also seemed optimistic about engaging next year’s Republican-controlled Congress in a debate over the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, which has been in place since 1961. “There’s going to be a process where Congress digests it,” Obama said Friday during his year-end news conference, referring to his effort to normalize relations with Cuba. “There are bipartisan supporters of our new approach, there are bipartisan detractors of this new approach. People will see how the actions we take unfold, and I think there’s going to be a healthy debate inside of Congress.” The debate, indeed, has already started. And it’s hard to predict whether or not there could be enough votes in Congress to pass a measure to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba, as lawmakers are split on the issue. SEE ALSO: Gov. Chris Christie wants cop killer Assata Shakur to return from Cuba Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956, has been one of the most vocal supporters the U.S. embargo on Cuba. During a news conference last Wednesday, he bluntly said: “This Congress is not going to lift the embargo.” He also criticized Obama for moving toward normalizing relations with Cuba, saying the policy shift was “based on an illusion, on a lie, the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people.” “All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to perpetuate itself in power,” Rubio added. The Republican senator also vowed to use his powers as the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to try to prevent the new policy changes on Cuba from moving forward. “We’re going to have a very interesting couple of years, discussing how you’re going to get an ambassador nominated and how you’re going to get an embassy funded,” Rubio said. There have also been a few Democratic lawmakers who’ve criticized the president for calling on Congress to lift the embargo and for moving to normalize relations with Cuba. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, whose parents are immigrants from Cuba, is one of them. “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government,” Menendez said in a statement last week. SEE ALSO: Majority of Cuban-Americans in favor of lifting embargo Meanwhile, there are also lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who oppose the embargo and want to see it be lifted. They argue that restoring relations with Cuba could help create political change in Cuba. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is among the opponents of the embargo. He explained his stance in a recent op-ed published by Time magazine: “I think a policy of isolationism toward Cuba is misplaced and hasn’t worked.” “The supporters of the embargo against Cuba speak with heated passion but fall strangely silent when asked how trade with Cuba is so different than trade with Russia or China or Vietnam,” Paul added. “It is an inconsistent and incoherent position to support trade with other communist countries, but not communist Cuba.” Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), who is the son of Cuban immigrants, is among the Democrats who want the embargo to end. Garcia has questioned the effectiveness of the U.S.’s strategy to isolate Cuba. He is also seen as someone who represents a new breed of Cuban-Americans who are much more supportive of ending the embargo. The Congressional Progressive Caucus also opposes the embargo and said that it “looks forward to working with President Obama and members of Congress who want to stabilize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.” SEE ALSO: The biggest winners of the renewed US-Cuba relationsThe post Will the next Congress lift the Cuba embargo? appeared first on Voxxi.

A street vendor waits for customers in a street of Havana, on December 18, 2014. That same day, President Barck Obama announced a series of measures to restore diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. (Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images)

When President Barack Obama announced last week his intent to begin normalizing relations with Cuba, he acknowledged his powers were limited and that only Congress could lift the half-century embargo against Cuba.

But he also seemed optimistic about engaging next year’s Republican-controlled Congress in a debate over the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, which has been in place since 1961.

“There’s going to be a process where Congress digests it,” Obama said Friday during his year-end news conference, referring to his effort to normalize relations with Cuba. “There are bipartisan supporters of our new approach, there are bipartisan detractors of this new approach. People will see how the actions we take unfold, and I think there’s going to be a healthy debate inside of Congress.”

The debate, indeed, has already started. And it’s hard to predict whether or not there could be enough votes in Congress to pass a measure to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba, as lawmakers are split on the issue.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Chris Christie wants cop killer Assata Shakur to return from Cuba

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956, has been one of the most vocal supporters the U.S. embargo on Cuba. During a news conference last Wednesday, he bluntly said: “This Congress is not going to lift the embargo.”

He also criticized Obama for moving toward normalizing relations with Cuba, saying the policy shift was “based on an illusion, on a lie, the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people.”

“All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to perpetuate itself in power,” Rubio added.

The Republican senator also vowed to use his powers as the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to try to prevent the new policy changes on Cuba from moving forward. “We’re going to have a very interesting couple of years, discussing how you’re going to get an ambassador nominated and how you’re going to get an embassy funded,” Rubio said.

There have also been a few Democratic lawmakers who’ve criticized the president for calling on Congress to lift the embargo and for moving to normalize relations with Cuba. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, whose parents are immigrants from Cuba, is one of them. “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government,” Menendez said in a statement last week.

SEE ALSO: Majority of Cuban-Americans in favor of lifting embargo

Meanwhile, there are also lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who oppose the embargo and want to see it be lifted. They argue that restoring relations with Cuba could help create political change in Cuba.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is among the opponents of the embargo. He explained his stance in a recent op-ed published by Time magazine: “I think a policy of isolationism toward Cuba is misplaced and hasn’t worked.”

“The supporters of the embargo against Cuba speak with heated passion but fall strangely silent when asked how trade with Cuba is so different than trade with Russia or China or Vietnam,” Paul added. “It is an inconsistent and incoherent position to support trade with other communist countries, but not communist Cuba.”

Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), who is the son of Cuban immigrants, is among the Democrats who want the embargo to end. Garcia has questioned the effectiveness of the U.S.’s strategy to isolate Cuba. He is also seen as someone who represents a new breed of Cuban-Americans who are much more supportive of ending the embargo.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus also opposes the embargo and said that it “looks forward to working with President Obama and members of Congress who want to stabilize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.”

SEE ALSO: The biggest winners of the renewed US-Cuba relations

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