White House threatens to veto bill restricting travel to Cuba

Agence France-Presse
A US congressional delegation including (L to R) Rep. John Larson (D-Minn), Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M), Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) and Rep. Raul Grijalba (D-Ariz) holds a press conference on May 27, 2015 in Havana.

The White House signaled its intent Tuesday to veto legislation that would stymie President Barack Obama's push to open travel to Cuba, the latest political clash over his landmark foreign policy goal.

The transportation bill includes measures designed to scupper Obama's broader effort to thaw Cuba ties that were set in deep freeze during the Cold War.

"His senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," the White House said in a statement.

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Congress is considering a bill that would restrict flights and cruise ships from going to Cuba, travel the Obama administration has encouraged.

In the White House's view, it would also "place unnecessary restrictions on options for educational, religious, or other permitted travel" to the Communist island.

Republicans keen to connect with Cuban American voters have opposed Obama's plan to improve ties, citing persistent political persecution in Cuba.

The field of prospective Republican presidential candidates includes Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, both of whom have their political base in Florida and have close ties to the Cuban-American community.