Rep. Davis (D-FL) sent up an amendment that would modify the current three-year rule on family members traveling to Cuba. A Rep. (R) from Arizona rose to support it, citing the case of a certain Mr. Lazio. Mr. Lazio is a naturalized American citizen who left his divorced wife and two sons behind in Cuba (they had agreed to it, apparently). Mr. Lazio joined the US Army, and was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Iraq. Meanwhile, he found out that one of his sons was sick and in a hospital in Cuba. He asked for permission to go.
He was denied, since under current rules he had to wait three years between visits and it wasn't his turn yet.
Reps. Diaz-Baralt (R-FL), Ros-Leihtenen (R-FL) and Menendez (D-NJ) all jumped on Davis and anyone else who rose to support this amendment. The arguments were long and passionate, but boiled down to this: Those representing the Cuban-American community in the US would rather deny a person the right to visit a sick son or hold the hand of a dying relative than allow Fidel Castro to get his hands on a single US dollar.
Now, everyone knows that Fidel Castro is a denatured pig, but after 46 years of sanctions, assassination attempts and general meanness from the Great Power to the North, he's still as firmly entrenched in power than ever. The only people who suffer from the sanctions are the actual Cuban people, not those ruling the country.
The debate petered out after Rep. Jeffords (I-VT) rose to blast an amendment that would privatize airplane service and maintenance stations, but came roaring back when Rep. Rangel (D-NY) took the floor. Rangel's on the Ways and Means Committee, which is currently debating CAFTA. He argued in support of doing away with sanctions against Cuba altogether, citing our loss of moral standing in the hemisphere, the fact that sanctions are usually considered an act of war (or at least an unfriendly act), and the benefits that could be given to Cuba by allowing trade with the only Communist state in the region.
Needless to say, certain Republicans started foaming at the mouth, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.
So much for the "family values" line. If another GOP political whore uses it again, call them down on it, hard.