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Bradley B.
Republican AL 1

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  • Opposing Rapprochement With Cuba

    by Representative Bradley Byrne

    Posted on 2015-01-12

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    BYRNE. I thank the gentlewoman, both for your time and for your leadership on this very important issue.

    As she said, I represent Mobile, Alabama. If you go and look at a map, it is a straight shot north from Havana to Mobile. For over three centuries, Mobile has been a major port for the export of goods and import of goods back and forth between Cuba and the United States. It is in the economic best interest of the people in my district for us to get to the point where we have normalized relations and trade with Cuba.

    I should be ardently in favor of this deal that the President is pursuing, but I am not. This is not the time, these are not the circumstances, and--to put it simply--this is not the way to do this.

    Let me address the way for a moment. It has been alluded to previously that we have done deals with China and with Vietnam. In both cases, the Presidents involved worked with Congress. That is critically important to whatever success they have had in both of those deals.

    In this circumstance, the President has refused to work with Congress. You can't reach the sort of agreement that he is looking for without Congress. You can't have an embassy unless we are willing to pay for it. You can't have an ambassador unless the Senate approves the ambassador.

    He is pursuing what, in essence, is an errand that cannot result in success that he is looking for, but he is pursuing it anyway without us because this is just another example of these efforts to make these unilateral, executive-type decisions, leaving Congress to decide to try to keep itself relevant as he becomes a lameduck President. That is no way to do this.

    Let me address the circumstances. I can't say it any better than the prior speakers have said it. This is a brutally oppressive regime that cannot change, and until they change, until they put in motion the things that we are talking about for change, I don't see how a country like the United States can seriously engage in negotiations with them.

    Most importantly, for me, from my perspective, I serve on the House Armed Services Committee--I don't think I have to tell everybody here the history of this country--this country with this regime in charge allowed the then-Soviet Union to put nuclear missiles aimed at the United States on their soil. They have never apologized for that; they have never renounced that.

    As we heard earlier, just a year ago, they were caught redhanded in an arms deal with the North Koreans, who are presently enemies of the United States. What sort of assurance do we have as part of this deal that Cuba is not going to be a staging ground for military activity, terrorist activity, against the people and the security of the United States of America? Nothing, nothing; yet we engaged in this deal, a very bad deal from my perspective--and I don't want to take anything away from the American citizen who we were able to bring back home--but look who we traded in return for that.

    It reminds me of the Bergdahl deal we had last year that was so very controversial. This administration doesn't know how to make a good deal. They know how to give everything away and get very little back.

    I want to normalize relationships with Cuba. I want us to open up that trade again because it is going to benefit my district.

    I am willing to do anything I can to help make that happen, but this country should never give in to people like the Castro brothers until there is a change in that regime, until there is a change in the Government of Cuba, until they renounce their activities that have been against the security of the United States, until we know that we have a good faith trading partner and a good faith partner, period, in this hemisphere.

    I look forward to the day when I can stand at the Port of Mobile and welcome goods coming in from Cuba and goods going out from Mobile to Cuba as part of a deal that is made in the right way, under the right circumstances, for the right reason. I hope and pray that that day comes, but that day is not today.

    I thank the gentlewoman for her leadership. I look forward to continuing to follow that leadership in the days to come.

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