Back in December, the Administration announced that they were engaged in secret talks with Cuban officials about shifting away from the “diplomatic mission” model and toward full diplomatic relations between our two countries; and today, President Obama announced that on July 20, the United States will open an embassy in Havana, Cuba, and take what he says are the first public steps toward normalizing relations that have been hostile since the 1960s.

Via Fox News:

“This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas,” Obama said.

“As part of that effort, President Raul Castro and I directed our teams to negotiate the reestablishment of embassies,” Obama said. “Since then our State Department has worked hard with our Cuban counterparts to achieve that goal and later this summer Secretary (John) Kerry will travel to Havana formally to proudly raise the American flag over our embassy once more.”

Although the President does have the authority to open embassies and establish relations, it is the Senate that will eventually have to screen and confirm Obama’s pick for the Ambassadorship.

You can count on this being a divisive issue from now until the day a hypothetical ambassador is confirmed—a move that some Republicans say won’t be made absent the resolution of major issues regarding diplomatic and overall human rights in Cuba. Florida Senator and presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s soft handed policy, and lashed out against when he calls “unilateral concessions” to the Castro regime:

“Throughout this entire negotiation, as the Castro regime has stepped up its repression of the Cuban people, the Obama Administration has continued to look the other way and offer concession after concession. The administration’s reported plan to restore diplomatic relations is one such prized concession to the Castro regime. It remains unclear what, if anything, has been achieved since the President’s December 17th announcement in terms of securing the return of U.S. fugitives being harbored in Cuba, settling outstanding legal claims to U.S. citizens for properties confiscated by the regime, and in obtaining the unequivocal right of our diplomats to travel freely throughout Cuba and meet with any dissidents, and most importantly, securing greater political freedoms for the Cuban people. I intend to oppose the confirmation of an Ambassador to Cuba until these issues are addressed. It is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end.”

Fellow Senator and candidate Ted Cruz also took a stand against the new policy:

Back in December, Lindsey Graham took a similar tack against the very establishment of an embassy in Cuba:

Jeb Bush has also opposed Obama’s kinder, gentler approach to relations with Cuba, saying, “We’re not a step closer to freedom in Cuba because of the steps the president is taking.”

Rand Paul, however, has bucked conservative trends and opened up to the idea of a tactical shift in our relationship with Cuba:

Paul told Tom Roten of News Talk 800 in West Virginia that the 50-year embargo “just hasn’t worked” and normalizing relations with the island nation is “probably a good idea.”

“If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship,” he said.

I think we were right when we predicted that this election cycle would be heavy on foreign policy.

You can watch President Obama’s announcement about the Embassy and embargo lift here: