Rubio pledges to block vote on Cuban ambassador

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday outlined plans to protest President Barack Obama’s move to thaw diplomatic relations with Cuba by blocking funding for an embassy there and preventing a vote on any potential Cuban ambassador.

The Florida Republican has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of Obama’s policy shift toward Cuba, which the President announced Wednesday as the two nations released political prisoners as an act of goodwill.

Rubio told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that, contrary to Obama’s assertion expanding relations and easing sanctions will help improve conditions for Cuba’s citizens, the move will simply make Cuba’s communist government “a permanent fixture forever.”

And he outlined moves he plans to take in the Senate to stymie the administration’s efforts. Rubio said Obama “is going to have a heck of a fight on his hand to get [an embassy in Havana] funded, as long as I’m in the Senate.”

On confirming a nominee for a U.S. ambassador to Cuba, Rubio promised: “Not only will I vote against it, but I reserve the right to do everything within the rules of the Senate to prevent that sort of individual from ever even coming up for a vote.”

Both Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro lauded the new era of cooperation between the two nations, with Obama declaring the shift would “place the interests of the people of both countries at the heart of our policy.”

Castro said Obama deserves “respect and recognition” for the move, and said that Cuba “[reaffirms] our willingness to dialogue” on various issues of dispute with the U.S.

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