GOP to seek restricting detainee transfers to Yemen

Republican senators plan to push an amendment on the Defense authorization bill that would restrict Guantánamo detainee transfers to Yemen.

The amendment, which was included in the House’s Defense authorization bill, would undercut one of the Obama administration’s top initiatives in its attempt close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told The Hill that he and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) were working on their amendment for the Defense authorization bill, which is expected to be taken up next week.

In a speech this year, President Obama said he was lifting the moratorium on detainees transfers to Yemen, which the administration put in place in 2010.

The restriction on detainee transfer to Yemen is significant because 56 of the 84 detainees who have been cleared from release are Yemini.

Chambliss said the senators’ measure would also strip out provisions loosening the transfer restrictions that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) included in the committee’s version of the bill.

Levin’s measures allow for the temporary transfer of Guantánamo detainees to the United States for trial and also make it easier to transfer detainees to foreign countries.

The Armed Services Committee did not debate the Guantánamo provisions during markup, saying it planned to save the debate for the Senate floor.

Levin has said he expects amendments on Guantánamo will require 60 votes to pass.

Congress has blocked the White House from moving detainees to the United States for several years and has placed additional restrictions on transferring them to other countries.

The House passed detainee transfer restrictions to Yemen in its version of the Defense authorization bill that cleared the lower chamber in June.