"Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating the communist nation through economic sanctions, which the Bush Administration has tightened significantly. A second policy component has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including private humanitarian donations and U.S.-sponsored radio and television broadcasting to Cuba. As in past years, the main issue for U.S. policy toward Cuba in the 110th Congress is how to best support political and economic change in one of the world's remaining communist nations. Unlike past years, however, Congress is now examining policy toward Cuba in the context of Fidel Castro's initially temporary, and now permanent, departure from heading the Cuban government because of poor health. Raúl Castro, who had served as provision head of government since July 2006, was selected on February 24, 2008 by Cuba's legislature to continue in that role officially. In the first session of the 110th Congress, Congress fully funded the Administration's request for $45.7 million for Cuba democracy programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 (P.L. 110-161). The act also provided $33.7 million for Radio and TV Marti broadcasting to Cuba, and added Cuba to the list of countries requiring a special notification to the Appropriations Committees for funds obligated under the act. The act did not include provisions easing restrictions on U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba that had been included in the House-passed and Senate-committee versions of H.R. 2829, the FY2008 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, and in the Senate-committee version of S. 1859, the FY2008 agriculture appropriations bill."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33819