Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – Nearly 40 U.S. lawmakers and almost a dozen CEOs are joining President Barack Obama for his trip to Cuba.

The White House says eight U.S. senators and 31 members of the House are traveling to Cuba. Most, like Obama, are Democrats. But a few Republicans are also along. They include Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford.

The White House made arrangements for an additional plane to accommodate intense congressional interest in the trip. But a few lawmakers managed to hop a ride on Air Force One, including Flake, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy. All are supporters of Obama’s effort to normalize relations with Cuba.

The CEOs of Xerox, Marriott, PayPal and other U.S. companies are also traveling to Cuba. So is an executive from CleBer, which has been approved to open the first U.S. factory in Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

While in Cuba, Obama plans to meet with local entrepreneurs to shine a spotlight on Cuba’s nascent private-sector economy. A number of U.S. companies are announcing plans to start operations on the island.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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