Easier travel to Cuba got one step closer on Thursday as a key Senate panal approved several provisions in line with President Obama's effort to restore ties with the island nation. Under the committee's recommendations, US citizens would no longer have to declare one of 12 reasons for visiting Cuba (tourism isn't among them), thus essentially lifting the travel ban. The move comes fast on the heels of the Transportation Department's approval of the first scheduled flights to Cuba in more than 50 years.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy thinks the move is overdue. "One place you can't go is 90 miles away: it's Cuba," he said. "I'm not claiming great thing about the Cuban government, but one thing is clear that the current law enacted 20 years ago hasn't done a darn thing."
One snag: the Senate's provisions must still be reconciled with the House of Representatives, where opposition to Cuba's Communist government is stronger.