Expansion of prisons to house Gitmo detainees rejected in House

The House on Tuesday evening defeated a Democratic attempt to let the government spend money to expand U.S. prisons so they can house terrorist suspects now held in Guantánamo Bay.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) proposed an amendment to the military construction spending bill for 2014 that would kill language prohibiting funds from being used to expand U.S. prisons for this purpose.

Language in the bill, H.R. 2216, holds that "none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense in this Act may be used to construct, renovate, or expand any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any individual detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the purposes of detention or imprisonment in the custody or under the control of the Department of Defense."

Moran urged members to support his amendment to strike this language. Aside from arguing that holding terrorist suspects in Cuba does not meet U.S. standards of justice, he said there are other reasons why it is better for the United States to hold them in the country.

"The best place for them to be housed and then tried is in the United States," he said. "The continuance of the Guantánamo Bay facility represents an immediate security threat to the United States because it is a rallying cry and a recruitment tool for our enemy."

Republicans rejected Moran's proposal and his arguments for it, allowing it to fail in a 170-254 vote. Every Republican save one voted against the amendment, and Democrats were split 169-25 in favor.

"The prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, quite frankly, are being treated much more leniently than I think they should be," Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) said.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) also opposed it and disagreed with Moran's argument that Guantánamo Bay promotes terrorism against the United States.

"Guantánamo Bay prison was not there when 9/11 took place," Wolf said, adding that it's a "hoax" to say the prison in Cuba is promoting terrorism.

The detainee amendment was one of several the House considered Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening. Brief descriptions follow here on amendments from:

— Paul Broun (R-Ga.), cutting $38 million for NATO's new headquarters in Brussels and using the money for deficit reduction. Failed 151-269.

— Broun, cutting $200 million from a NATO security investment program and using the money for deficit reduction. Rejected in voice vote.

— Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), requiring repairs at the homes of general and flag officers to be reported to Congress if they are above $15,000, not $35,000. Approved in voice vote.

— Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), requiring that no less than $35 million of the medical and prosthetic research account goes toward research on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Approved in voice vote.

— Pete Gallego (D-Texas), reallocating $5 million from general operating expenses to support veterans job training. Approved in voice vote.

— Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), reallocating $44 million to speed up veterans disability claims. Passed 248-172.

— John Culberson (R-Texas), requiring that none of the funds be obligated or expended for the development of an electronic health record except, for a health record as set forth in the Joint Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2013-2015 of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, Joint Executive Council. Approved in voice vote.

— Sam Farr (D-Calif.), prohibiting the use of funds to enforce rules saying VA providers can't seek recommendations on veterans' participation in state marijuana programs. Withdrawn.

— Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), prohibiting the use of funds to award contracts to bidders who were convicted or faced civil penalties for fraud, theft or other crimes. Approved in voice vote.

— Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), prohibiting the use of funds to plan or execute another round of base closures. Approved in voice vote.

— Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), prohibiting the use of funds to award contracts above $1 million when the government does not receive at least two offers. Approved in voice vote.

— Lee Terry (R-Neb.), prohibiting use of funds to boost funding for major medical facilities under construction. Approved in voice vote.

— Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), prohibiting the use of funds to lease or buy new light duty vehicles unless they meet the Obama administration's fuel efficiency guidelines. Approved in voice vote.

— Murphy, prohibiting the use of funds for improving property that is not being used. Approved in voice vote.

— Steve King (R-Iowa), prohibiting the use of funds to enforce labor wage rules under the Davis-Bacon Act. Failed 192-231.

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