Roberts vows to ‘shut down the Senate’ if Obama empties Gitmo

TOPEKA, Kansas — Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsNo. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Overnight Healthcare: McConnell warns Senate not to block repeal debate | Insurers knock Cruz proposal | WH tries to discredit CBO | Lawmakers propose .1B NIH funding boost Trump: I’ll be ‘very angry’ if Senate doesn’t pass ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Kan.) on Friday vowed to block all legislation in the Senate with a prolonged filibuster if President Obama tries to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States.

A day after Tea Party hero Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Texas) campaigned with him in Wichita, Roberts threatened to wage a marathon talk session similar to the one Cruz held last year to protest the implementation of ObamaCare.

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“I stopped him once from trying to send a Gitmo terrorist to Leavenworth. I shall do it again, I shall do it again and if he tries it again I will shut down the Senate,” Roberts said, referring to the military prison located sixty miles east of his campaign headquarters in Topeka where he spoke to campaign volunteers.

Roberts made a similar threat back in 2009, when Obama originally signaled he wanted to relocate detainees to the United States. At the time, the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, as well as a maximum-security prison in Obama’s home state of Illinois were being considered to house the prisoners.

Roberts told reporters that he would hold the Senate floor for hours on end if necessary to stop Obama.

“We’re going to bring 179 terrorists to the United States including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?” Roberts said, referring to the detainee accused of masterminding the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Once you get control of the floor you just don’t leave it. Ted Cruz did that with regard to ObamaCare. If necessary, I’ll do it with terrorists,” he said.

Sen. Tom CoburnTom Coburn-trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground Al Franken: 'I make fun of the people who deserved it' The more complex the tax code, the more the wealthy benefit MORE (R-Okla.), who is traveling through the state this week on Roberts’s campaign bus, said he would join the filibuster. Roberts predicted he would have broad support from his colleagues.

“I will have help on this. I can see John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE there and I can see Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE there and I can see Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Trump voter fraud commission sets first meeting outside DC RNC chair warns: Republicans who refused to back Trump offer 'cautionary tale' MORE there and I can see a whole bunch of other people there,” Roberts said.

Obama ordered the closure of the prison camp as one of his first acts as president, but the Congress overrode him by prohibiting the use of federal funds to transfer detainees.

Now the White House is considering going around Congress by using executive power to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, according to The Wall Street Journal. The president might also veto the annual defense authorization bill, which includes the ban on detainee transfers.

Republicans blasted the idea, warning it could have dangerous consequences.

“Why is the White House even discussing this as we battle a brutal enemy that has beheaded two Americans,” Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “Bringing dangerous terrorists into the U.S. makes no sense and sends the wrong message to our enemies and allies.”

White House officials questioned the Journal report.

“We do not know what new press reports are referring to when they say the Administration is ‘drafting options’ intended to ‘override a congressional ban,’” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

Still, Hayden noted that the administration had “made clear many times” that it continued “to object to congressional restrictions” on detainee transfers.

“The president has been clear about the administration’s strategy with respect to Guantanamo Bay,” she continued. “To the greatest extent possible and consistent with our national security interests, detainees will be repatriated or resettled, or prosecuted in Federal courts or military commission proceedings.”

But the White House spokesperson also said would “call on members of both parties to work together to ensure that Congress lifts the remaining restrictions and enables the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.”

The escalating partisan fight over Guantanamo could imperil the chances of confirming a successor to Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderJuan Williams: Momentum builds against gerrymandering GOP worries as state Dems outperform in special elections House votes to curb asset seizures MORE in the lame-duck session after the election.

The new attorney general would play a major role in any effort to try and convict suspected terrorists in civilian courts.

Holder announced in 2009 that Mohammed would face a civilian trial in New York for the murder of nearly 3,000 people in the 2001 collapse of the World Trade Center.

A year and a half later, the Obama administration reversed itself and announced it would try Mohammed before a military commission in Cuba because of the congressional restriction on moving detainees to the United States. A defense lawyer working on the case told The New York Daily News earlier this year that the military trial may not reach a conclusion until after 2017. 

— Justin Sink contributed.