Progress plodding on legislation to allow Cuban trade, tourism

A bill that would increase agricultural trade with Cuba progressed out of a U.S. Senate committee last week, joining a different bill that would loosen limitations on travel to the island. But the restoration of relations between the U.S. and Cuba hasn’t moved at the pace that some would like — and such rapid progress does not appear imminent, according to experts on the subject.

Despite President Barack Obama’s call last year for the U.S. to normalize relations with the island nation, factors including the attitudes of Senate leadership and the dynamics of presidential politics could hinder progress on that front. Legislation faces even longer odds in the House.

Two Missouri Democrats are among the prominent elected officials to express support of increased trade with Cuba. Sen. Claire McCaskill visited the country in February and said trade with Cuba could boost Missouri jobs. Gov. Jay Nixon followed in March on a trade delegation that explored Cuba as a market for Missouri agricultural exports.

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