A spokesman for Helms today lashed out at Clinton for trying to act unilaterally, while Florida representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said no change was necessary in Cuba policy. Even with the Pope on his side, he can expect a fight on this one.
Now that he wants to ease restrictions on humanitarian aid to Cuba, President Clinton may rue the fact that he signed away executive control over Cuba policy in 1996. At the urging of Pope John Paul II, the White House today announced plans to ease the flow on humanitarian aid and family remittances to Cuba. But the 1996 Helms-Burton Act requires congressional approval for lifting curbs on Cuba. “That could be a major obstacle to the President’s initiative,” says TIME correspondent Doug Waller. “He’ll have to convince Jesse Helms, and some legislators who are even more resistant than Helms to any changes in Cuba policy.”