CRAWFORD DROPS CUBA COMPROMISE BILL: Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) has put on hold a proposed update to legislation that would lift financing restrictions on U.S. agricultural exports after failing to get Florida GOP Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on board, Crawford’s spokesman told our Pro Agriculture colleague Catherine Boudreau. The proposal, a working text never formally introduced, was designed to allay the Cuban-American lawmakers’ concerns about the potential thawing of relations between the two countries by imposing a 2 percent transaction fee on all agricultural sales to Cuba. Sellers would pay the fee, and the revenue would be directed to the thousands of U.S. companies and citizens that have certified claims of property confiscated by the Cuban government — worth $8 billion total. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) told el Nuevo Herald earlier this month that he supported the excise tax idea, though “no definitive agreement” had been reached.
“Crawford greatly appreciated the good faith effort from Rep. Curbelo in finding a compromise that worked for both American agriculture and aggrieved Cuban Americans,” Crawford’s spokesman James Arnold told POLITICO in an email. “Unfortunately, even his support for the idea wasn’t enough to bring others on board, despite months of negotiations and other concessions.”
Back to Plan A: Crawford is willing to work with the Florida lawmakers again, but for now the Arkansas Republican will pursue passage of his original bill (H.R. 525) that would allow U.S. agricultural goods to be sold to Cuba using credit instead of cash upfront or through third-party guarantees, the current requirement due to the embargo. The legislation has 41 mostly Republican co-sponsors and broad support from the U.S. farming industry.
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