The US House of Representatives has voted to retain restrictions on US citizens seeking to travel to Cuba.

The Republican majority house voted 247-176 to keep the provision which was attached to a transportation funding bill.

It will obstruct rules issued in January looking to ease travel restrictions on Cuba and allow frequent commercial flights to the Caribbean island.

The vote is a blow to President Barack Obama, whose administration has taken the unprecedented step of looking to rehabilitate US relations with Cuba following a 50-year stand-off dating back to the Cuban missile crisis.

The administration rules lifted a requirement that US travellers obtain a licence from the Treasury Department before travelling to Cuba. Instead, all that is required is for travellers to assert their trip would serve educational, religious or other permitted purposes.

The Republican provision is the handiwork of congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican from the Miami area, Associated Press reported.

Previously, the house voted to stop exports to Cuba reaching entities connected to the Cuban Mililtary or the Socialist nation's security forces.

According to, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen praised the move saying not doing so "would have only strengthened Cuba's repressive military and intelligence apparatus".