Senior Dems clash over barring detention of accused terrorists

House and Senate Democrats are clashing over whether to bar the military from detaining terrorism suspects on U.S. soil. 

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinCongress: The sleeping watchdog Congress must not give companies tax reasons to move jobs overseas A lesson on abuse of power by Obama and his Senate allies MORE (D-Mich.) said Tuesday that he does not support a proposal from Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithPentagon audit to cost 7M in 2018 Overnight Energy: Regulators kill Perry plan to boost coal, nuclear | 2017 sets new record for disaster costs | Cliven Bundy walks free US sets new cost record for major disasters MORE (D-Wash.) to change the executive branch's power to prevent the indefinite detention of suspects on U.S. soil. 

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Smith is the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, so the split divides the senior Democrats on military issues in each chamber. 

Smith is offering his amendment on the House floor this week as part of the Defense authorization bill.

Levin told The Hill that he wants to preserve the executive branch’s power to detain terror suspects in military detention if they’re captured in the U.S., even if the Obama administration isn’t using that power.

“They don’t have to exercise it, but I’m not so sure that they want the authority removed to arrest or to capture, because we're talking about war here — somebody who’s declared war against the United States, just because we capture them on U.S. soil,” Levin said.

“We can hold them on U.S. soil, but I don’t think we want to eliminate the authority of the Executive Branch to hold someone who’s declared war on the United States as an enemy combatant,” he said.

Levin added that he had not yet heard from the Obama administration for its position on terror detainees captured on U.S. soil.

Smith plans to offer his amendment with Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashOvernight Defense: House votes to renew surveillance program | More drones, troops headed to Afghanistan | Former officers urge lawmakers to curb Trump's nuclear powers Overnight Tech: House votes to reauthorize surveillance powers | Twitter on defensive after Project Veritas video | Senate panel to hold hearing on bitcoin Overnight Cybersecurity: House votes to renew NSA spying | Trump tweets spark confusion | Signs Russian hackers are targeting Olympics | Bannon expected to appear before House Intel panel MORE (R-Mich.), which would reverse provisions in last year’s authorization bill as well as the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). 

Smith has argued that the Constitution requires due process rights for anyone captured on U.S. soil. He said Tuesday that “both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration have done a tremendous job of prosecuting terrorists in the United State without the use of indefinite detention, and without ultimately utilizing military custody in the United States.”

Supporters of military detention say that the administration needs as many tools as possible to fight terrorism, including military detention, and have argued that barring military detention on U.S. soil would provide incentive for terrorists to come here.

While many Democrats are likely to side with Smith in the House, Levin took on the Obama administration last year when it opposed detention provisions included in the 2012 Defense authorization bill.

Levin argued that the bill was not altering current law, and concerns about U.S. citizens being detained indefinitely were unfounded.