Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023

Floor Speech

Date: July 20, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


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Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Mr. Chair, I claim time in opposition.

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Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Mr. Chair, let's be clear, this is not the time to provide unilateral concessions to a designated state sponsor of terrorism. This amendment is simply a bailout for the anti-American terrorist regime of Cuba, a regime that brutally oppresses the Cuban people and continuously undermines U.S. national security interests.

It aids adversaries such as Russia, the Maduro regime in Venezuela, and terrorist groups such as FARC and ELN, just to mention a couple.

Remember, the law allows for unlimited quantities of food and medicine and other basic necessities that are already allowed to be sent and to be sold to Cuba. What we must not do is leave the American taxpayers on the hook to subsidize the Cuban terrorist regime.

This is not the time to bail out an enemy of the United States, which harbors fugitives from U.S. justice, which allows Russian spy ships to dock in its waters, that ruthlessly oppresses the Cuban people, imprisoning even children for just speaking out for freedom.

This amendment, by the way, would also ensure that American farmers are not paid because we all know that the Cuban regime does not pay back its debts. This would, again, put the American taxpayer on the hook to help the Cuban regime.

Let's be clear, a vote against this amendment is a vote for freedom. A vote against this amendment is a vote for the American national security interests. A vote against this amendment is a vote for human rights and freedom for the Cuban people.

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Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Gimenez).

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Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Wasserman Schultz).

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Chair, I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his leadership and compassion about this extremely important issue.

Mr. Chair, I must rise in opposition to the gentlewoman's amendment. While I know she has the best of intentions, I want to be very practical about my opposition to this. The reality is the amendment will not alleviate the suffering of the Cuban people, quite the contrary. In fact, it may exacerbate their pain by simply enriching a tyrannical regime who uses violence and repression to keep their cruel grip on power.

On a day in which we just heard from the First Lady of Ukraine, who is obviously experiencing what the brunt of repression means from a brutal dictator, we certainly should not be caving to brutal dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.

The dictatorship in Cuba controls all trade on the island, and, in turn, uses resources to oppress its own people.

The current cash-in-advance requirement for the financing of agricultural exports to Cuba ensures that the regime in Cuba cannot benefit from loans or credit, and that its corrupt, military-run financial institutions are not intertwined with American financial institutions.

Please, anyone within the sound of my voice needs to understand that this amendment allows U.S. persons to invest in Cuban agricultural businesses, even if those businesses are involved in trafficking and confiscated property, as defined in the LIBERTAD Act, which is law, even if the business is controlled by the Government of Cuba, the Cuban military, or any other entity. It is inexplicable to me how we could allow that.

It is also important to point out that unlimited quantities of food, medicine, and other basic necessities are already permitted into Cuba both for sale and through humanitarian donations.

And as the Biden administration has done, the best way to lift up the Cuban people is to support their efforts for democratic reform and mount pressure for release of hundreds of arbitrarily detained political prisoners, including 20 children.

Mr. Chair, I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment and support liberty all over the world.

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Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Mr. Chair, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Green).

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Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.

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