U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced yesterday his decision to lift his hold on the nomination of Roberta Jacobson to the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
According to the press release issued by his office, this decision is a result of months of negotiations with the administration in hopes of cracking down on abuses of the people-to-people Cuba travel policy. Rubio said in the statement that, while he still has "concerns about the entire program," he will accept Jacobson's nomination on the condition that the State Department "at least enforce its own regulations and stop the more egregious abuses." Also according to the release, the State Department has agreed to require that applicants requesting permission to travel to Cuba "demonstrate how their itineraries constutite purposeful travel that would support civil society in Cuba and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities."
Under the rules of the Senate, a senator can block votes on nominees or legislation by placing a "hold" on them, which Rubio did late last year. During her confirmation hearing, Jacobson defended the Obama administration's policies toward Cuba, including the lifting of some restrictions on remittances to the island. Rubio had previously characterized the administration's policies toward Latin America as ones of "appeasement, weakness and alienation of our allies."