Boehner to call for GOP unity on Gitmo detainees

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will ask all House Republicans to cosponsor a bill aimed at preventing suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to the United States.

In a letter to be sent to the GOP conference on Wednesday and obtained by The Hill, Boehner presses his colleagues to sign on to the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act, introduced last week by top House Republicans.

“The safety of the American people is our highest priority, and ensuring that some of the most dangerous men on the face of the Earth are not shipped into the United States is one way that we can ensure that priority is upheld,” Boehner wrote.

“Over the last several weeks, in hearings, on the floor, in newspapers, and in our congressional districts, many of us have voiced opposition against terrorists being transferred from the Guantanamo Bay prison into America,” he added.

The effort is the latest push Republicans have made to highlight the potential transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has taken to the Senate floor more than a half-dozen times in the last two weeks to point out the Obama administration's lack of a proposal, and Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) used last weekend's GOP radio address to voice his own concern.

Floor staffers are set to gather signatures for Boehner's legislation during votes this week.

President Obama used a Jan. 22 executive order to give the military a year to shut down the prison facility. But nearly four months later the White House, the Defense Department and the Justice Department have not announced what they plan to do with the several hundred detainees still at the facility.

Democrats in Congress are concerned enough with the lack of a plan that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), among others, have voiced their own concern.

One senior Democratic aide told The Hill on Tuesday he had not seen the Republican Party so unified on any issue since the 2008 election. Congressional Democrats are pushing the White House to unveil a plan soon in order to take the issue off the table.

One proposal would see remaining detainees who cannot be released or repatriated shipped to prisons inside the United States. Boehner's legislation, which would block the move, has already attracted 56 cosponsors, all Republican.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has used the proposal to bring prisoners to the U.S. as a vehicle for attacking Democrats.

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