Senate votes to prohibit Guantánamo detainee transfers to US

The Senate late Thursday night approved a Republican amendment that would prohibit the transfer of terrorist detainees from Guantánamo Bay to U.S. prisons.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced Amendment 3245, which would prevent the Department of Defense from using funds to move suspected terrorists from Gitmo facilities to prisons within the United States.

Ayotte said Thursday that she feared that those presumed terrorists would seek legal rights in U.S. courts. She added that the Gitmo facility is far more secure because it’s protected by the military.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she opposed the amendment, which passed on a 54-41 vote, because there are already more than 100 terrorists being securely held in federal prisons today.

“This is what our federal prisons do and they do it well,” Feinstein said before the vote.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) questioned why Feinstein and others opposing the amendment would want to bring suspected terrorists to the United States during a time of war.

“We don’t want these crazy bastards brought here to the United States,” Graham said. “They want to steal your way of life, not steal your car.

“Have you lost your mind?”

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) called the amendment “veto bait” because President Obama said he’d veto the defense bill if it included this provision. One of Obama’s campaign promises in 2008 was to close down the Gitmo facility, which requires moving those being detained.

Democratic Sens. Jim Webb (Va.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted with Republicans for the amendment.

The Senate is scheduled to continue amendment work on the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 3254, Thursday night, with hopes of finishing work by the end of the week. The defense bill funds U.S. military operation.

The following amendments were passed by unanimous consent or voice-vote:

  • 3199, introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), which bans imports and visas of those supporting the rebel group M23 in eastern Congo and Rwanda.
  • 3090, introduced by Lieberman, which continues the funding of firefighter and first-responders' emergency equipment through FEMA.
  • 3201, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), which expresses the Senate's will to take down the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony in Uganda.
  • 2929, introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), improves authorities and limitations relating to wartime contracting and other acquisition-related provisions.
  • 2942, introduced by McCaskill, which expands whistleblower protections to non-defense contractor and grantee employees.
  • 2966, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), which reauthorizes and expands the multi-trades demonstration project.
  • 2973, introduced by Inhofe, which expresses the sense of the Senate on training of mental health counselors for members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families.
  • 2980, introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), which requires an inspector general of the Department of Defense report on allowable costs of compensation of employees of Department of Defense contractors.
  • 2994, introduced by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), which requires a report on a program on the return of rare-earth phosphors from Department of Defense fluorescent lighting waste to the domestic rare earth supply chain.
  • 3059, introduced by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), which requires a report on the establishment of a joint Armed Forces historical storage and preservation facility.
  • 3072, introduced by Inhofe, which expresses the sense Senate on increasing the cost-effectiveness of training exercise for members of the Armed Forces.
  • 3086, introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), which requires assessments by the Air Force of the effects of proposed movements of airframes on joint readiness training.
  • 3186, introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), which requires a study on small and ammunition acquisition.
  • 3098, introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), which requires a report by the suspension and debarment officials of the military departments and the Defense Logistics Agency.
  • 3230, introduced by Boxer, which deals with public diplomacy.

—This post was updated Nov. 30 at 12:51 p.m.