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Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2005

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (Senate - April 20, 2005)

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Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, this amendment is very straightforward. Its purpose is to limit the use of funds to restrict the issuance of general licenses for travel to Cuba in connection with authorized sales activities and for other purposes.

This amendment responds specifically to an action by the Department of Treasury in a new rulemaking process that dramatically curtails the potential of agricultural trade with the nation of Cuba. A group of us--one of my colleagues who is on the Senate floor, MAX BAUCUS, and others--sent a letter to our Secretary of Agriculture. We know agricultural trade is extremely important for American agriculture. Last year, there was a surplus of $9.5 billion. That is going to drop precipitously this year to as much as $2.5 billion.

Trade with Cuba has been growing. This amendment dramatically restricts that trade by the unwillingness of the Treasury Department to offer the necessary licenses for agricultural traders to travel to Cuba for that purpose.

I hope we can consider it. It is very straightforward. I understand my colleague from Montana has a second-degree amendment.

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Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I strongly support the second-degree amendment. I think it has been well spoken by the ranking member of the Finance Committee, Senator Baucus. He has detailed exactly what we intend to do. The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee has echoed that very clearly. I support reinstating the 2000 act, in its clarity, in its simplicity, to allow agricultural and medical supply trade with Cuba. To see that changed by a regulatory process in the Treasury Department was not, nor is it, in my opinion, the intent of Congress.

I thank my colleagues for their collective effort in reinstating this issue.

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Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, the Senator from Louisiana has made the point so very clearly. We are sending a billion dollars to the tsunami region and the tsunami victims. We speak not once about reuniting families.

The Senator from Louisiana traveled with our majority leader to the tsunami area immediately following that tragedy. She saw firsthand the phenomenal difficulties. I was in India recently on behalf of the congressional coalition on adoption and children and once again heard about the tremendous problems that are real to this region.

One of the things that both the Senator from Louisiana and I know, because we immediately extended our assistance and opened our arms and said, Americans are ready to adopt these orphan children, we got a very nice, polite response: No, we will work to take care of our own.

The reason that response was appropriate was because in those regions of that part of our world, in those cultures and religions, the extended family is phenomenally important. They work very hard at taking care of their own under most difficult situations of the kind we have seen. It isn't just that they can reach out their arms for love and care; it is that they have the resources to assume those children into their families who are part of the extended family.

I do believe this is an appropriate amendment. It does some targeting within. It is not adding money to; it is not taking money away from; it is simply defining and shaping a very important use. I would hope we could agree on that and accept this amendment of the Senator from Louisiana as an appropriate amendment to the underlying bill.

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Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, let me say how disappointed I am that the action taken by the Senator from Nevada has just happened. We were working very hard to solve a very specific problem that the administration had chosen to rule by regulation, what I believe is a total subversion of a law that was critically necessary and helpful to our agricultural people. But that has now happened, and the Senator was in his right, as disappointed as I am, by what I believe is a near bushwhack, but then again that is chosen.

I yield to the Senator from Georgia.

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