White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed Republican threats to defund President Obama's unilateral Cuban normalization policy today, claiming that the government already has all the money it needs to implement Obama's plan.
"It's not clear to me that additional appropriations will be necessary to establish an embassy in Cuba, principally because there is already a significant diplomatic presence in Cuba," Earnest said. "There is an Interest Section there that represents the United States. So I don't know of any specific appropriations request that has been made. There may be one in the future, we'll see."
Earlier in the day, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave an impassioned speech promising to do all he could stop Obama's "New Course on Cuba." “We are going to have interesting discussions about how they are going to get an ambassador nominated and an embassy funded,” Rubio said.
Rubio's parents fled Cuba in the 1950s and he has been a consistent voice for maintaining a hard line against the rule of the Castro brothers over the island.
“Time and again, the Cuban government has manipulated every single concession this country has made to its advantage,” Rubio claimed. “The Cuban government will never allow changes on the island that threaten their grip on power.”
The United States does, in fact, operate a United States Interests Section in Havana. It is in the same building that housed the U.S. Embassy in Cuba before the communist revolution and the U.S. has been operating in the building since the 1970s. You can see a picture of the building here.
If Rubio and other Republicans want to stop Obama from turning the US Interest Section, Havana into the US Embassy, Havana, they will have to attach defunding language to separate must pass legislation, just like they will have to do if they want to stop Obama's amnesty.
Asked by Fox News's Ed Henry if Obama was considering normalizing relations with North Korea on the same theory that "opening it up" would put more pressure on the regime to change their behavior, Earnest curtly said, "no."