TN congressmen on Cuba policy

Michael Collins has collected comments from Tennessee congressmen on President Obama’s Cuba policy. Naturally, Republicans jeer, Democrats cheer.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe fears the United States is moving too quickly in re-establishing diplomatic relations with Havana.

…“As has been the case too often with this administration, President Obama seemed more interested in cutting a deal than the security and safety of the United States,” said Roe, of Johnson City.

“In re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, the administration agreed to release Cuban spies held in the U.S. without getting assurances from the Cuban government that Americans who have been held as political detainees would be returned or that American criminals who have claimed asylum in Cuba would be returned to the U.S. for prosecution.”

…Cuba is another example of Obama negotiating a bad deal with an anti-American regime, said U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Frog Jump Republican.

“People are suffering in Cuba, and the president just orchestrated a negotiation in return for nothing,” Fincher said. “The president did not receive any commitments for improved political and civil liberties for its people or the return of over 70 fugitives wanted by the FBI, including individuals on the FBI most wanted list.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Maryville Republican, took a more nuanced position, saying, “After 50 years of almost no relationship with a country 90 miles off our shore, it’s time to think seriously about what the relationship should be for the next 50 years.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Chattanooga Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Obama administration’s policy toward Cuba may have changed, but “we still have yet to see any significant actions by the Castro regime that will benefit the United States or enhance freedoms and circumstances for the Cuban people.”

…U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, one of just two Democrats in the Tennessee delegation, argues the administration made the right call on Cuba.

“Re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and posting an ambassador at a reopened U.S. Embassy in Havana will eventually open new export options for Memphis entrepreneurs and give all Americans more freedom to travel to Cuba,” Cohen said. “But it will have significant impacts outside of tourism and economic concerns as well.”

By having “open and honest conversations” with Cuba, Cohen said, “we can help promote human rights and justice in a nation where the United States has long had little influence and where inalienable rights that Americans take for granted have been withheld from the people. These actions are the right thing to do.”