Although President Donald Trump is advocating a hard-line stance with Cuba, Arkansas’ First District Congressman Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, thinks legislation he is pushing has a narrow window to pass.
A little over a week ago, Trump signed a new executive order that rolls back a thawing of relations conducted during the Obama administration. The Trump order restricts travel and returns the decades old trade embargo with the communist controlled country.
Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Crawford said that his measure to loosen credit transactions in Cuba (H.R. 525) for Arkansas agriculture has strong legislative backing and could be taken up quickly now that the president has set forth his new policy.
“We’re gaining co-sponsors all the time and we’ve sort of held it in abeyance, waiting for the announcement of Trump’s policy with Cuba,” Crawford said. “There is a 30-day window in there where we can continue to interact with the White House and the national security staff and press our case… I think there’s an opportunity, I think there’s a window open for us to move H.R. 525, and we’re going to do that and we’ll try to be a lot more aggressive about it now that we know what the president’s policy is.”
Crawford sees his bill working in tandem with a measure led by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., that would affect travel in Cuba. Crawford takes issue with Trump’s decision to curtail travel to the island nation, declaring that it works against American interests.
“If you limit travel, you limit the revenue potential for Cubans to spend money on U.S. ag commodities. The two go hand-in-hand,” he said. “Using H.R. 525 addresses the concerns of the folks down in South Florida who had some issues with trading with certain entities that had military ownership. So, we’ve taken that into consideration, that’s number one. But if you don’t leave us an opportunity on travel, then how are we going to have our businesses be able to go down there, interact with these Cuban buyers and effect that in a meaningful way? So the fact is we really kind of need both. It will be difficult otherwise for us if you say, ‘Yep, you can trade, but you really can’t go there and trade.’ Then, what have we achieved?”
Crawford also said he is firmly committed to running for re-election in 2018. Two Democrats have indicated they may challenge Crawford next year. Crawford is in his fourth term in Congress. Watch his interview from the show below.