Americans murdered by a terrorist state, do not matter. The families of Americans seeking justice for murders by terror state, again, do not matter.That is the message that President Obama and his national security team telegraphed to the world yesterday when it recommended removing Cuba from its well-earned place on the state sponsors of terror list. If you think this is just about Cuba, think again.
My former boss, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) who chaired the House Ways & Means Committee, including many other Committees and leadership posts during his long and accomplished career, succeeded time and time again, because he knew the House rules better than just about any member of the House. I learned a lot working with him, especially about the power of House and Senate rules and procedures as well as the authorization and appropriations processes.
If you have the political will, there is always a way to structure a legislative strategy to force compliance from a recalcitrant administration. Is it easy? Of course not. Yet tell that to the family members of victims of terrorism, we can’t muster the votes?! When it comes to dealing with terrorists, this Administration has been afforded way too much deference. In the case of Cuba, a license to engage in certain executive action that, in my view, is and remains unlawful. The de-listing of Cuba is just the latest. There are a few gems in the January 16 regulations including, at the top of the list, the authorizing of credit and debit card transactions by American companies and users.
Republicans have 45 days to contain the President’s reckless decision to de-list Cuba as state sponsor of terrorism. In doing so, they will send a clear signal to the world that Americans lives do matter and, if you’re a terrorist or terror state like Cuba, you’re not going to get away with it. And, most importantly, they will put U.S. policy back in its place, consistent with existing laws, and remind the Article II branch that rule of law matters. No amount of policy laundering or whitewashing can change that Cuba belongs on that list.
Marshaling and conserving legislative power is prudent, at times; however, too much of it and, as with any political weapon, it goes stale. Congress needs to chime in with something in the next 45 days. The President has gone unchecked since December 17, 2013 on U.S.-Cuba policy. Congress needs to chime in and make its views known, rather than stand by and acquiesce.