Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) released the following statements today after introducing the Cuban Airport Security Act, a bipartisan bill that would strengthen American security at airports in Cuba and on commercial flights between the two countries, and pause all commercial flights until a proper security assessment has been completed:
“With so many serious security threats around the world, it is irresponsible to leave key aspects of our airport security in the hands of the anti-American, repressive regime in Cuba. President Obama’s legacy should not come before the safety of the American people. It’s extremely concerning that airlines operating in Cuba are not allowed to hire their own workers, and airport staff are employees of the Cuban government. This increases the likelihood that someone on the inside seeking to harm the United States could gain access to sensitive flight data and controls. I have opposed commercial flight service to Cuba because it will only empower and enrich the regime, not the Cuban people. Now that President Obama is proceeding unilaterally, we cannot allow our security to be compromised. All commercial flights between the United States and Cuba should be put on hold until we can close these sprawling loopholes, conduct a full audit to make sure personnel is being properly vetted, and verify these flights to and from airports in Cuba include the type of robust security measures needed to keep Americans safe,” said Rubio.
“Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship that continues to harbor American hijackers and terrorists as heroes—including Joanne Chesimard, convicted of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster—and remains a strategic ally of some of the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations. Since every Cuban airport worker is employed directly by the regime and its airports lack the technology and security capabilities we’ve grown to expect in the United States, I have serious concerns entrusting the Castro regime to protect the lives of Americans flying in and out of Cuba. This bipartisan legislation would implement the commonsense mechanisms necessary to ensure Cuba is held to the same international airport security standards as other countries, all while preventing a strengthening of the security apparatus that ensures Castro’s tight grip on power at the expense of Americans’ security,” said Menendez.
U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation Security Subcommittee, introduced the bill in the U.S. House in July. Earlier this year, Katko and other members of the House Homeland Security Committee had to cancel a trip to Cuba to inspect the county’s aviation security infrastructure after the Cuban government refused to approve their visas.
“I welcome the support of Senators Rubio and Menendez on the issue of the safety and security of Americans traveling to Cuba,” said Katko. “The Obama Administration’s rush to open regularly scheduled commercial air service between the United States and Cuba without taking proper precautions is negligent and I am optimistic that the House and Senate will move quickly on legislation to help address safety and security deficiencies. Senator Rubio has been a leader on issues surrounding the U.S. relationship with Cuba, and I could not ask for a better partner in the Senate to work with on this bill.”