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February 25, 2009 

Omnibus Spending Bill Passed by House Makes Changes to Cuba Policy

The House of Representatives today passed by a vote of 245-178 H.R. 1105, the $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, to fund much of the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2009.

The omnibus appropriations bill makes several changes with respect to Cuba policy. Section 620 of the bill contains language that would amend the Trade Sanctions Reform Act to permit persons to travel to Cuba to market and sell agricultural and medical products under a general license, rather than pursuant to a specific license. Sections 621 and 622 of H.R. 1150 would defund enforcement of the 2005 Bush Administration changes to the rules governing "cash in advance" payments of agricultural sales and travel to visit family members in Cuba.

The bill would also appropriate $83,676,000 to the Bureau of Industry and Security, of which of which $14,767,000 must be used for "inspections and other activities related to national security."

The bill now goes to the Senate, where considerable debate is expected over the bill's high price and numerous earmarks.

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