A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday to lift the Cuba trade embargo – which was great timing for this week’s Loop Congressional Research Service Report pick!

President Obama began the process of “normalizing relations with Cuba, but he can’t go it alone. To completely open up Cuba to U.S. business and vice versa would require congressional action. The president, per law, could only eliminate the embargo if he says”a transition government is in power in Cuba” or “if he determines that a democratically elected government is in power,” according to a CRS report on Cuba sanctions.

The CRS Report lists Cuba trade restrictions in law that can be waived or lifted – for instance there’s a prohibition on ships entering U.S. ports carrying goods or passengers benefiting Cuba, but the Treasury Secretary has discretion to issue licenses on a limited case-by-case basis. But to fully end the embargo would take an act of Congress.

That’s what Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and a group of senators, Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), are seeking to do.

The bipartisan bill rolls back the section of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that established “a total embargo upon all trade between the United States and Cuba” and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (Helms–Burton Act) that strengthened and codified the trade embargo. It does not, however, address foreign aid to Cuba, which is also currently prohibited.

“It’s time to the turn the page on our Cuba policy,” Klobuchar said. “Fifty years of the embargo have not secured our interests in Cuba and have disadvantaged American businesses by restricting commerce with a market of 11 million people just 90 miles from our shores.”

As we’ve reported before, there remains plenty of opposition to opening up trade and travel to Cuba, so it probably won’t be anytime too soon that Cuban goods start filling the shelves of U.S stores.

(Reminder: We are offering this new weekly service because the average person can’t access the reports. This week’s CRS report number is R43888, and can be requested from a congressional office.)

Previous Loop CRS Reports of the Week: