House Republicans are still fuming over the cultural/anniversary trip that music power couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé took earlier this year to Cuba. In response, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $17 billion spending bill Wednesday that includes a provision to tighten travel restrictions to the communist nation.
Some lawmakers, including Cuban-American Rep. Jose Serrano (D-New York), are calling it the "Jay-Z, Beyoncé Bill."
The legislation funds the operations for several agencies, including the Treasury Department, which approved the controversial Carter-Knowles trip. Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Florida) told Politico that the trip "was an example of how the guidelines" for travel to Cuba "are not being enforced."
If passed, Americans seeking to travel to the island nation will be required to be pursuing academic study related to a degree program.
"This is all based on the fact that Jay-Z and Beyoncé were photographed on the streets of Cuba," Serrano told BET.com.
More important, said Serrano, who supports relaxing relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the provision is a wasted effort that Republicans are using to play to Miami's politically influential Cuban population.
"Artists have always been in a special class. They understand each other and when an artist of a category of Jay-Z or Beyoncé goes to Cuba, they're not there on vacation. They're there to hear the music, to hear the sound, to understand. They know this is a country rich in culture and music," the New York congressman said. "And vice versa for the Cubans to have this superstar [couple] come talk to them and say we appreciate the work you do and what you've meant in terms of your music and art throughout history."
Unfortunately, Serrano lamented, "Cuban-American politics gets in the way of arts and sports and everything."
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(Photo: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)