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Congressman John Conyers

Representing the 13th District of Michigan

BIPARTISAN GROUP OF 65 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CALL ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO LET CUBA BUY U.S.-MADE RECONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS AFTER HURRICANE IRMA

September 28, 2017
Press Release

Today, a bipartisan group of 65 Members of Congress, led by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06), sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to implement changes to allow U.S. companies to sell products for reconstruction to Cuba after Hurricane Irma devastated the country.

The Members wrote,

“[T]here is a simple change you can make that would provide necessary support to the Cuban people while at the same time helping U.S. businesses: remove restrictions on the ability of U.S. companies to export needed relief and reconstruction supplies to the Cuban government and its people.”

“It is well known that U.S. companies, both large and small, have shown a keen interest in selling products to Cuba, as exemplified by the formation of the Chamber of Commerce-led U.S.- Cuba Business Council. Making this regulatory change would not only help the Cuban people rebuild, but would provide a boon to companies in America who provide good jobs to our people. This change would not be controversial. Even before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba,  90 percent of Americans supported increasing U.S. business engagement with Cuba. At this difficult time for the Cuban people, denying them the ability to purchase high quality, American-made construction, medical, and other crucial supplies is cruel and counterproductive.  We urge you to take action without further delay.”

"Like much of the Caribbean, Cuba was devastated by Hurricane Irma," said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams. “There are steps the United States can, and should take, to allow US businesses to help our island neighbor, without costing taxpayers a dime. Right now is not a time for politics; it's a time to help the Cuban people rebuild.” 

 

Signatories include: Karen Bass (CA-37); Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (VA-08); Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02); Earl Blumenauer (OR-03); Robert A. Brady (PA-01); Cheri Bustos (IL-17); Salúd O. Carbajal (CA-24); Kathy Castor (FL-14); David Cicilline (RI-01); Katherine Clark (MA-05); Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09); Steve Cohen (TN-09); John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13); Luis Correa (CA-46); Rick Crawford (AR-01); Charlie Crist (FL-13); Peter DeFazio (OR-04); Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03); Ted Deutch (FL-22); Mike Doyle (PA-14); Keith Ellison (MN-05); Tom Emmer (MN-06); Dwight Evans (PA-02); Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03); Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15); Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01); Brian Higgins (NY-26);Jared Huffman (CA-02); Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30); Walter B. Jones (NC-03); Robin L. Kelly (IL-02); Ro Khanna (CA-17); Barbara Lee (CA-13); Ted Lieu (CA-33);Zoe Lofgren (CA-19); Betty McCollum (MN-04); James P. McGovern (MA-02); Gregory Meeks (NY-05); Grace Meng (NY-06); Gwen Moore (WI-04); Seth Moulton (MA-06); Jerrold Nadler (NY-10); Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32); Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL); Richard M. Nolan (MN-08); Scott H. Peters (CA-52); Chellie Pingree (ME-01); Mark Pocan (WI-02); Ted Poe (TX-02); Jared Polis (CO-02); Jamie Raskin (MD-08); Bobby Rush (IL-01); Tim Ryan (OH-13); Mark Sanford (SC-01); Jan Schakowsky (IL-09); David Scott (GA-13); Jose Serrano (NY-15); Mark Takano (CA-41); Paul D. Tonko (NY-21); Norma Torres (CA-35); Nydia Velázquez (NY-07); Peter J. Visclosky (IN-01); Tim Walz (MN-01); Peter Welch (VT-AL); Frederica S. Wilson (FL-17).

 

Full text of the letter is available here and below.


Dear President Trump,

 

We are extremely saddened by the loss of life and destruction in the Caribbean from Hurricane Irma. Cuba was particularly hard hit: ten people perished and billions of dollars’ in damage was done to their already weak infrastructure and housing, in what was the strongest hurricane to hit Cuba in 85 years. Cuba absorbed much of Irma’s force, lessening the storm’s impact on southern Florida and the United States. Historical grievances should be put aside during a humanitarian crisis like this – the people of Cuba need urgent support to rebuild.

 

Fortunately, there is a simple change you can make that would provide necessary support to the Cuban people while at the same time helping U.S. businesses: remove restrictions on the ability of U.S. companies to export needed relief and reconstruction supplies to the Cuban government and its people. Although current Treasury Department embargo regulations authorize U.S. companies to provide services related to infrastructure in Cuba (31 CFR 515.591), Commerce Department export regulations require that U.S. exports to support the provision of such services be approved on a case-by-case basis.  (15 CFR 746.2) Obama administration regulations specifically licensed only the sale of tools and construction materials to private entities, servicing only privately-owned buildings, thus excluding public facilities such as schools and hospitals. At this critical time, we should relax these restrictions to allow other appropriate entities in Cuba to purchase needed relief and reconstruction supplies and equipment, even if only temporarily during the rebuilding period.

 

It is well known that U.S. companies, both large and small, have shown a keen interest in selling products to Cuba, as exemplified by the formation of the Chamber of Commerce-led U.S.- Cuba Business Council. Making this regulatory change would not only help the Cuban people rebuild, but would provide a boon to companies in America who provide good jobs to our people.

 

This change would not be controversial. Even before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba, 90 percent of Americans supported increasing U.S. business engagement with Cuba. At this difficult time for the Cuban people, denying them the ability to purchase high quality, American-made construction, medical, and other crucial supplies is cruel and counterproductive.  We urge you to take action without further delay.

 

Thank you kindly for your consideration. We look forward to your response.