On one phone line was a senator from Florida talking to a hunger-striking dissident in Central Cuba about how President Barack Obama must resist "commercial temptation."
In another office on Capitol Hill, the call was with an opposition journalist in Havana, telling a crowded press conference that contact between Americans and Cubans is "of the utmost importance."
Lawmakers wrestling over whether to allow Americans to visit Cuba phoned dissident leaders on the island Thursday to underscore support for their opposing stances. The dueling calls came as members of Congress – buoyed by a new president who has suggested a fresh look at Cuba – introduced bills that would lift all restrictions on travel to Cuba.
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. William Delahunt held a press conference to discuss his bill – with 122 co-sponsors – that would end the limits on travel to Cuba for all Americans. Right now, travel to the hemisphere's last communist country is highly restricted to some lawmakers, scholars, journalists, farmers, and others with special licenses.