Newspaper article Roll Call

New Jersey Republicans Set Stage for Fight on U.S.-Cuba Relations

Newspaper article Roll Call

New Jersey Republicans Set Stage for Fight on U.S.-Cuba Relations

Article excerpt

Lawmakers are always eager to use appropriations bills to make political statements; this year, House Republicans are using the power of the purse to weigh in on President Barack Obama's move to normalize U.S. and Cuba relations.

GOP lawmakers began to set the stage Wednesday, when New Jersey Republican Reps. Scott Garrett, Leonard Lance and Tom MacArthur officially asked senior appropriators to withhold necessary funding to fulfill the diplomatic process unless the Cuban government agrees to extradite copkiller Joanne Chesimard, an enemy of the Garden State and a longtime fixture on the FBI's "most wanted" list.

Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper. Two years later, she escaped from her correctional facility and ultimately received political asylum in Cuba.

"It is unacceptable to me that President Obama would even consider normalizing relations with a regime that harbors someone convicted of murdering one of New Jersey's finest, not to mention oppresses its own people and violates basic human rights and freedoms," MacArthur said in a statement.

"The fact that Cuba flat-out refuses to extradite Chesimard and questions the judgment of our legal system proves they are not ready to continue discussions to normalize relations with the United States," Garrett added in a separate quote accompanying the release of a letter the three lawmakers sent to the chairwoman and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign operations, Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Nita M. …

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