Cuba-omnibus deal in the works?
March 06, 2009
The White House is talking with Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) about breaking the embarrassing impasse over the $410 billion omnibus bill — which they have effectively blocked over objections to a House-inserted provision to loosen travel/importation restrictions to Cuba.
The senators, who have taken a hard line against the Castro regime, are looking for written assurances that the inclusion of a “general license” provision for the importation of goods to Cuba in the House bill won’t result in a de facto suspension of the embargo, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Obama has given preliminary assurances and a written agreement could be in the works by Monday, a staffer told POLITICO.
Menendez, who is Cuban-American, refused to vote yes on a cloture motion for the omnibus last night, forcing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to postpone the vote until next week — and pass an emergency stopgap funding bill today.
Menendez’s “no” has sparked a firestorm in the lefty blogosphere — He’s the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and, hence, a key member of Reid’s leadership group. But Menendez made his objections known early, sources say, and made no secret of his opposition to any measure that contained the Cuba provision.