By Rebecca Kheel - 02/23/16 04:22 PM EST
Democrats on Tuesday commended President Obama for submitting a plan to Congress that would shutter the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and implored Congress to take it up.
“The president has provided a practicable plan for closing the facility,” Rep. Adam SmithAdam SmithGOP: Congress should study the draft before adding women Key Dem to oppose defense bill House panel kills LGBT effort on defense bill MORE (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services, said in a written statement. “Congress must now work with the administration in good faith to effectuate closure.”
Obama's proposal would transfer 35 detainees deemed eligible for transfer overseas, while another 46 detainees would continue to face review boards to determine their eligibility.
Anywhere from 30 to 60 detainees the administration deems too dangerous to transfer would be moved to a facility in the United States.
Current law bars housing Guantanamo detainees stateside, and Republicans have vowed to keep it that way.
Smith argued that Congress need to change the law.
“We must start by lifting the current bans on transferring detainees into the United States and on constructing or modifying facilities within the United States to house Guantanamo detainees, bans that have too long served as barriers to closing the detention center,” he said.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), vice chair of the Progressive Caucus, called Obama’s plan strong and responsible.
Echoing Obama’s arguments for closing the military prison, Lee said the facility is a terrorist recruiting tool and costs too much to operate.
“National security experts are clear: this detention facility is a terrorist recruiting tool that must be closed,” she said in a written statement. “Make no mistake, closing Guantanamo Bay advances our values and our national security.”
Sen. Jeanee Shaheen (D-N.H.) similarly spoke to the cost and terrorist recruiting potential.
“Our country has a proven track record of trying terrorists, delivering the justice they deserve, and imprisoning them safely and securely,” she said in a written statement. “I look forward to reviewing the president’s plan and will continue to encourage Congress to work with the president to find a bipartisan alternative to Guantanamo.”
Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedReid throws wrench into Clinton vice presidential picks House, Senate at odds on new authority for cyber war unit House defense bill elevates cyber force, defying White House MORE (D-R.I.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services, highlighted the fact that President George W. Bush had also wanted to close the facility in urging his colleagues to consider Obama’s plan.
“We need to find more cost-effective ways to detain the remaining prisoners and a workable, long-term solution for detainees who cannot be released or who may pose a future threat,” he said in a written statement. “I will work with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to consider this proposal.”
Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinReid: 'Lay off' Sanders criticism Senators tout 4.5B defense spending bill that sticks to budget Lawmakers seek changes in TSA PreCheck program MORE (D-Ill.) slammed Republicans for continuing to block Guantanamo’s closure.
“My Republican colleagues should drop their opposition to every proposal put forward by President Obama and listen to America’s military and national security leaders,” he said in a written statement.
He also voiced support for the administration’s continued transfer of detainees abroad.
“In the meantime, the administration has ample authority under current law to transfer the vast majority of remaining detainees and they must expedite efforts to do so,” he said. “The time to close Guantanamo has long since passed.”
Sen. Angus KingAngus KingHouse, Senate at odds on new authority for cyber war unit House defense bill elevates cyber force, defying White House Overnight Cybersecurity: Obama signs trade secrets bill MORE (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, said he supported closing the detention facility, but needed to review Obama's plan.
“I intend to carefully review the administration’s proposal and gather the input of experts as I work to assess whether the plan presents a credible and acceptable path to closing the facility in a manner that is consistent with U.S and international law and with our national security interests,” he said in a written statement.
“And I hope that throughout this debate, Congress will be able to put aside partisanship to have a thoughtful conversation that focuses on the merits of the issue.”
A couple Democrats have bucked the party and come out against the plan.
Sen. Michael BennetMichael BennetGOP ad calls Clinton 'a living history of scandal' Trump, GOP agree: ObamaCare helps us GOP hopefuls struggle with support of Trump MORE (D-Colo.), who is facing re-election, said he supports closing the facility, but remains opposed to transferring any detainees to his home state. The Pentagon surveyed prisons in Colorado as potential relocation sites.
Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.), a conservative Democrat, said he opposes any efforts to close Guantanamo.
“I oppose the president’s efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp,” he said in a written statement. “Our elected leaders’ greatest responsibility is ensuring the safety of our communities and our families. Guantanamo Bay houses dangerous terrorists who must be kept in isolation, away from our citizens. We must also make sure these enemy combatants do not return to the battlefield.”