Sen. Robert Menendez has been one of the leading Democratic critics against the president’s change in Cuba policy and says it will be difficult to confirm an ambassador to the communist country.
The Cuban-American congressman, who’s the soon-to-be ex-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Congress can do little to prevent the Obama administration from shifting the existing interests section in Cuba into an embassy.
But what Congress can so is refuse to confirm an ambassador. He said it’s difficult to see a nominee winning Senate approval.
The New Jersey senator said he wasn’t told about the administration’s negotiations with Cuba, and that will make him more skeptical when administration officials testify to Congress.
“We got nothing in terms of democracy and human rights. We got nothing about political freedoms,” Menendez said. “At the end of the day, they got absolutely nothing for giving up everything that the Castro regime wants.”
He continued: “I understand the Castro regime only changes out of economic necessity, not out of ideological change. It seems to me what we did was throw an economic lifeline.”
In the same interview, Menendez praised the imposition of sanctions on North Korea as a good first step, but that they did not go far enough to deter future cyber-attacks.
“Vandalism is when you break a window. Terrorism is when you take down a building and North Korea here landed a bomb on Sony’s parking lot,” he said. “I think there has to be real consequences to this; otherwise you’ll see it happen again and again.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.