The House is expected to vote next week on legislation to block the transfer of any more prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Friday.
Next week’s vote would come a month after the Obama administration said it would transfer 15 detainees to the United Arab Emirates. Twenty additional detainees have been approved for transfers, with the U.S. seeking countries to take them in.
The bill, authored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), would prohibit transfers of any of the remaining 61 detainees at Guantánamo Bay until either the end of this year or the enactment of the 2017 defense authorization.
"The terrorist detainees remaining in Guantanamo Bay are the worst of the worst, and the administration's plan to release an additional 20 detainees this year in an effort to fulfill a campaign promise puts American lives at risk. It's time for the House to act to protect our national security by blocking these reckless transfers," Walorski said in a statement.
President Obama campaigned on closing the Guantánamo Bay facility and has made it a priority to reduce the prison population while he’s still in the White House. Despite only having about four months left in his term, Obama expressed optimism at a press conference on Thursday that he could still close the prison before leaving office.
Obama’s efforts have faced roadblocks in Congress as lawmakers have repeatedly passed annual defense authorization bills that prohibit transfers of Guantánamo Bay prisoners to the U.S.
“I am not ready to concede that it may still remain open because we’re still working diligently to continue to shrink the population,” Obama said after a summit with Southeast Asian leaders in Laos.
“I continue to believe that Guantánamo is a recruitment tool for terrorist organizations, that it clouds and sours some of the counterterrorism cooperation that we need to engage in. And it's not necessary and it's hugely expensive for U.S. taxpayers,” he added.
This story was updated at 2:47 p.m.