Exclusive: Congressional Republicans Seek to Give Biden War Powers For Cuba
West Virginia GOP Rep. Alex Mooney is planning to introduce a new congressional joint resolution to grant President Joe Biden the ability to use war powers to deliver humanitarian aid to Cuba amid growing unrest in the country.
Images of the resolution reviewed by The American Conservative show that “The Authorization for the Use of Military Forces Against Cuba to Ensure the Delivery of Humanitarian Aid” has three specific goals:
- “ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people of Cuba, including but not limited to food, water, and medicine;”
- “create a safe zone in Cuba for the Cuban people to safely receive humanitarian aid;” and
- “prevent humanitarian aid from being stolen by the Cuban government or its forces.”
Mooney’s office stated, “The Congressman hasn’t introduced any legislation related to Cuba. If he does introduce legislation we’ll be happy to comment at that time. Our office doesn’t comment on hypothetical legislation.”
Congressional Republicans have also held separate, virtual, member-level meetings regarding how to respond to the protests in Cuba and have invited representatives of large corporations to them. Emails also reviewed by The American Conservative show an official from Sen. Rick Scott’s office coordinated a meeting on July 19 with members of Congress and representatives with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Verizon, and the wireless communications trade association CTIA.
Sources detailed that senators spoke to companies from Silicon Valley to see what was technically feasible as far as getting internet access into Cuba. “If the people of Cuba can see the outpouring of support they have from the United States and the world can see the atrocities happening in that country, the further we’ll be toppling that regime,” said a Senate aide.
The American Conservative reached out to Scott’s office for comment, but did not receive a response in time for this report’s publication.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced last week that Mooney would be among those Republicans placed on the “Leader’s Advisory Team on Cuba,” and Mooney’s office has been actively courting other Republicans to support the resolution, including Florida Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Maria Salazar, and Sen. Marco Rubio, according to emails reviewed by The American Conservative. A source told The American Conservative that Rubio would not support Mooney’s drafted AUMF.
Those emails reveal that Diaz-Balart’s office opposed the measure, with one official writing that the Republican does “not trust the Biden Administration” because they “would only prop up the Cuban regime with this aid.” However, other communications show that Diaz-Balart planned to write the president a letter “urging him to build on [the Trump administration’s] robust policy toward Cuba and to lead a coordinated, global effort of democratic allies and multilateral organizations to stand with the Cuban people.”
Over the last week, massive protests have erupted among Cuba’s citizens over collapsing conditions brought about by the communist-controlled government. According to the Wall Street Journal, Cuba’s economy collapsed by 11 percent last year amid the coronavirus. Money brought into their economy through tourism quickly dried up as countries enacted lockdowns and travel restrictions and remittances plummeted.
Citizens are reportedly forced to wait in line for hours to buy basic commodities, such as bread and chicken, or even use public transportation. Cubans have also seen their electricity and lights shut down for hours at a time. All the while, coronavirus continues to spread.
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that it was placing sanctions on the Cuban Minister of Defense, Alvaro Lopez Miera, and on the Cuban Ministry of the Interior. “The Cuban people are protesting for the fundamental and universal rights they deserve from their government,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a statement. “Treasury will continue to enforce its Cuba-related sanctions, including those imposed today, to support the people of Cuba in their quest for democracy and relief from the Cuban regime.”
The Biden administration said those sanctions were put in place because of the Cuban government’s moves to quash protests. In a separate statement, the president said that those sanctions are only “the beginning” of what the administration plans to do. “The United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people,” he said.
The U.S. has a largely dismal record of intervening in Cuba, ranging from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion organized by the CIA to oust Fidel Castro from power, which led to heightened tensions during the Cuban missile crisis, to multiple failed CIA plots to assassinate Castro.
Ryan Girdusky is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, a host of the TAC Right Now podcast, and the author of They’re Not Listening: How The Elites Created the National Populist Revolution.
Anthony Leonardi is an incoming law student at the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law and a former breaking news reporter at the Washington Examiner.