The House rebuffed a proposal Thursday to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility by the end of 2017.
An amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act that would provide a framework for closing the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, failed on a vote of 174-249.
Rep. Adam SmithAdam SmithCongress to clear path for Mattis Budowsky: Did Putin elect Trump? Pelosi: Dems OK with Mattis compromise MORE (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee and author of the amendment, called the facility an "international eyesore." He noted that the U.S. already has prisons that can hold dangerous convicted terrorists.
The legislation maintains the current ban against transferring Guantánamo Bay detainees to the U.S. It also prohibits building facilities to house detainees on U.S. soil.
Republicans argued that the need for a place to detain suspected terrorists would not go away even if the Guantánamo Bay prison were closed.
"I struggle to understand why we would close the Guantánamo Bay detention camp only to finance the incarceration of enemy combatants within the United States," Coffman said.
President Obama first pledged to close the facility upon taking office in 2009. But he has repeatedly encountered resistance from Capitol Hill throughout his two terms.
The White House issued a veto threat against the defense authorization in part because of the Guantánamo Bay restrictions. It argued in a Statement of Administration Policy that "operating this facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists."
Smith offered a similar amendment to last year's defense authorization, but it also failed to pass muster in the House.
Final passage of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization is expected Friday morning.