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Public Statements

Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - June 28, 2007)

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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment today that I would like the Committee to consider, which is a prohibition against the expenditure of funds.

In the year 2000, this Congress passed legislation that altered our trading relationship with Cuba. That legislation, the Trade Sanctions Reform Act of 2000, was put in place that would allow for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, and medicine to Cuba for cash in advance. That legislation was signed into law and was operational; and from that period of time, we have sold nearly $1.5 billion of agriculture commodities, food, and medicine to Cuba for cash in advance.

In the year 2005, the administration published a final rule clarifying the definition of cash payments in advance; and by that rule, it disrupted the sale of agriculture commodities, food, and medicine to Cuba. The change being that rather than payments in advance at the time the goods were delivered, the commodities were delivered in Cuba, the administration's rule requires that the payment be made before the commodities leave a United States port, a matter of days or weeks by advancing the payment.

This is contrary to our normal trading relationships, the norms within the international community, and has been disruptive and is an indication of our unwillingness to be a reliable provider of agriculture commodities to Cuba.

This amendment that I offer today prohibits the funding of the implementation or the enforcement of that rule promulgated by the administration in the year 2005, and so it would return us to the days following the passage of the original legislation, the Trade Sanctions Reform Act of 2000, that would once again say that cash in advance is payment when the commodity arrives in port in Cuba. And this change in rules has had an effect upon our ability of American farmers and agriculture producers to supply, to sell, for cash the things we produce in this country, a detrimental effect upon the farm economy. It is estimated that exports fell approximately 10 percent in value from 2004 to 2005. Wheat, which is important in my home State of Kansas, was decreased by 18 percent; rice by 38 percent; cotton by 87 percent; lumber by 100 percent; dairy products by 55 percent; seafood by 100 percent; course grains by 74 percent; and poultry decreased by 27 percent. And the goal is to try to restore those markets, once again be a more reliable supplier of food to the Cuban people, and to make certain that American agriculture is not harmed by our policy or is harmed less by our policy.

These are unilateral sanctions, Mr. Chairman, as you know. And unilateral sanctions are probably not effective in and of themselves when it is only the United States that fails to trade with Cuba. So, again, a rather modest modification in our policy, changing it to the days of the policies enacted by Congress before the administration changed the rules.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, again I would point out that this amendment today does not change the law and that all sales to Cuba must be for cash in advance. There is no agricultural credit through the United States Government that can be offered to Cuba to assist in the sale of purchases by Cuba nor can any U.S. financial institution be engaged in the activity leading up to the sale of these commodities to Cuba.

So we do not change the law. It is simply a matter of definition. And at least in my estimation, the definition was changed for purposes of making those sales less likely to Cuba, thereby harming farmers, ranchers, and producers across the United States.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, thank you for your courtesies.

Again, I would ask for adoption of this amendment. I offered the amendment on the House floor in July of 2000 that ultimately resulted in the passage of the Trade Sanctions Reform Act.

I admit that I came here in support of farmers in Kansas who thought it was useful to them and beneficial to them economically to be able to sell to Cuba. And over time, I have tried to examine this issue, and it has become something broader. I think there is a greater benefit in the efforts to change the nature of Cuba and to enhance the opportunities that Cubans have for greater personal freedom by an economic relationship between our two countries.

And so, although it was initially an economic issue with me and it remains important to the agriculture community, I think it also benefits the opportunity that we can enhance Cubans for greater freedom and personal liberty within their own country.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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