The Obama Administration’s announcement of plans to normalize Cuban relations and the incoming Congressional leaderships’ determination to stop that by any means necessary is setting the stage for a big battle next year.
In practice, Congress can’t stop the normalization, or even prevent the administration from easing the long-standing sanctions. That doesn’t mean they can’t make things inconvenient.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC) vowed to ensure the US Embassy in Havana doesn’t reopen, and is talking up plans to block the funds that would be used to reopen the embassy.
It’s going to be a complicated fight, as Congress may well have the votes to deny funding to the embassy, for instance, but almost certainly doesn’t have a veto-proof majority to try to override any moves by the administration to roll back the embargo or the travel ban.
President Obama announced the normalization plans earlier this week after agreeing to a prisoner exchange with the Cuban government. Though Congress is deeply divided on the plan, polls show the American public largely supportive of ending the sanctions.