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Lawmakers Scrap Effort to Lift US Ban on Travel to Cuba

U.S. congressional negotiators, bowing to White House pressure, have scrapped an effort aimed at lifting the four-decades-old ban on travel to Cuba.

The House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year approved a measure that would have barred the use of government money from enforcing the travel ban as part of the Treasury and Transportation Appropriations Bill.

But congressional negotiators removed the amendment, citing a White House threat to veto the legislation if it contained the Cuba language.

The move angered Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, one of the chief sponsors of the amendment. He spoke on the Senate floor Thursday.

"It is not fair to the American people. That is an attempt to slap around Fidel Castro, and by doing it, we are injuring the American people's right to travel," he said.

Senator Dorgan and other opponents of the travel ban say the U.S. policy of isolating Cuba has not brought democratic change to the communist-ruled island nation.

President Bush strongly supports maintaining the ban, saying it stops hard currency from propping up a repressive communist regime.

Many in the Cuban-American community in Florida have long pressed the Bush administration to take a tougher approach to the government in Havana. Florida could be a crucial state for Mr. Bush's re-election bid next year.