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“Obama didn’t go this far in the campaign, but I certainly believe he thinks we would be better off not restricting Americans’ rights to travel. It comports with the rest of his foreign policy,” said Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, who co-sponsored the House bill with Rep. Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts Democrat.

Former President George W. Bush imposed a once-every-three-year restriction on travel by Cuban-Americans to their homeland, a policy that proved unpopular among South Florida Cubans with family still on the island.

The Senate bill provoked the ire of Republican South Florida lawmakers including Sen. Mel Martinez and Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, both of whom denounced the proposal as an acquiescence to the Castro brothers.

“This is the time to support pro-democracy activists in Cuba, not provide the Castro regime with a resource windfall,” Mr. Martinez said.

Tourism from Canada, Europe and elsewhere already provides one of Cuba’s most important revenue streams for the Castro government, which is led by Fidel Castro’s younger brother, Raul.

While some contend that Cuba has become less repressive under Raul Castro, others say the mild reforms he has implemented — including permitting Cubans to stay in tourist hotels they can’t afford — is mere window dressing for the hemisphere’s last dictatorship.

“The regime is growing in its repression,” Mr. Diaz-Balart said, vowing to stop any effort to normalize relations with the island. “We defeat it every year.”“””