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Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

TRANSPORTATION, TREASURY, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, THE JUDICIARY, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007 -- (House of Representatives - June 14, 2006)

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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, it is a bit of history that brings me back to the House floor, an issue related to agriculture, food and medicine trade with Cuba. In July of 2000, this House of Representatives adopted an amendment that I offered to allow the sale of food, medicine, and agriculture commodities to the country of Cuba.

That amendment was adopted in July of 2000 by a vote of 301-116. A majority of Republicans, a majority of Democrats supported that amendment. As a result of that amendment being adopted, in the conference committee significant discussion occurred, and ultimately the new legislation, TSREEA, the Trade Sanction Export Enhancement Act, of 2000 was adopted.

And that law was working reasonably well for a period of time. And then in February of 2005 the Department of Treasury adopted a regulation changing some of the rules related to trade with Cuba. Mr. Chairman, we have had the opportunity now of taking advantage of the opportunity to sell for cash, cash up front, to Cuba agriculture commodities, food and medicine, to the tune of about $400 million in the previous year.

But the regulation that the Department of Treasury adopted in February of 2005, began to seriously limit the opportunity for American farmers to export their agriculture commodities to Cuba. The rule that the Department of Treasury promulgated changes the time frame in which the cash must be paid. Again, let me reiterate what we are talking about here is not whether Cuba must pay cash in advance, but the timing of that payment.

And the rule that was adopted by the Department of Treasury changed that time by a few days. It turns out to be 10 days to 2 weeks. And the issue becomes that the cash must be paid prior to the shipment from the United States as compared to prior to delivery in the port in Havana.

As a result of that, it has increased the cost of doing business with Cuba in a significant way, and, in fact, we have had a significant reduction, 22 percent reduction, in the sale of agriculture products since the adoption of that rule.

This amendment that I offer today, Mr. Chairman, simply is a prohibition against the spending of any money to enforce that regulation and therefore return us to where we were prior to February of 2005.

It is identical language to what was included in the appropriation bill last year in both the House and the Senate. The language was removed in conference. But this House of Representatives and our companion body across the way adopted identical language in the Treasury/ Transportation appropriation bill a year ago.

And the gentlewoman from Missouri (Mrs. Emerson) has made that effort in 2005, which we all agreed to when this bill was adopted a year ago. So the sole purpose here today is to return us to preFebruary 2005.

We will probably have the opportunity to debate the value of trade with Cuba and what it means to the Castro government. And I welcome that opportunity. It seems to me that unilateral sanctions, we clearly can reach the conclusion that unilateral sanctions by the United States are only harmful to our own agriculture sector, to our own farmers, at a time in which drought affects much of the country. High energy and input costs are dramatically increasing.

It seems to me that there is no reason for us to make these sales more difficult. And, in fact, the reduction of those sales is almost 21 percent of corn, 17 percent of wheat, and 27 percent, 26 percent of meat products from the United States, reduction in those sales since the adoption of this rule.

This amendment is obviously supported by a wide array of farm organizations.

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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, again, let me reiterate that this has nothing to do with changing the sanctions that are in place. The law remains. The administration created a new rule a year ago for which there is no commercial basis.

And the argument that farmers will not be paid, it is farm organizations and farmers who are supporting my amendment today. And, finally, the suggestion that we must save taxpayers expense, there are no taxpayer dollars involved in trade with Cuba. There is no subsidy. There is no agricultural credit provided.

This is really about a noncommercial reason, just trying to make the trade more onerous, more expensive, so that our farmers have less of an opportunity to export their goods to Cuba.

Again, Mr. Chairman, I would ask support. Return us to the compromise that was created prior to February of 2005.

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