UPDATE 1-U.S. lawmakers seek to end restrictions on travel to Cuba
(Adds comments, details from news conference, Amex and Kayak adding Cuba)
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON Jan 29 (Reuters) - Eight Republican and Democratic U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to repeal all restrictions on U.S. citizens' travel to Cuba, the first step in Congress toward ending the U.S. embargo since President Barack Obama moved toward normal relations last month.
The bill would end legal restrictions on travel to the island by U.S. citizens and legal residents, as well as on related banking transactions.
The Obama administration announced some loosening of restrictions on travel last month, but Congress must vote to end them.
Senators backing the bill include Republicans Jeff Flake, Jerry Moran, Michael Enzi and John Boozman, as well as Democrats Patrick Leahy, Richard Durbin, Tom Udall and Sheldon Whitehouse.
They acknowledged Cuba will not change overnight, but called Thursday's announcement an important step.
"We're not offering a concession. We're simply saying that Americans should be allowed to have the right to travel wherever they would like to unless there's a compelling national security reason," Flake said.
Moran is from Kansas, Enzi Wyoming and Boozman Arkansas. Although Republicans are generally more resistant to the changes in Cuba policy backed by Obama, a Democrat, lawmakers from farming states generally favor moves that could lead to more open Cuban markets. Continuación...