Senate defense bill includes funding to design Gitmo alternative

Senate defense bill includes funding to design Gitmo alternative
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A previously undisclosed provision in the Senate version of an annual defense policy bill specifies that the Pentagon could use funds to plan or design new facilities in the United States to house Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The provision was not included in a summary of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) released by the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. The committee released the full text of the bill Thursday night.

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“The Secretary of Defense may use amounts authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available for the Department of Defense for designing and planning related to the construction or modification of such facilities,” the bill reads.

The Senate version of the bill could also potentially ease the closure of the facility by allowing detainees to plead guilty in civilian court via videoconference and having them serve their sentences in foreign countries.

The legislation retains laws prohibiting the use of funds to transfer or release a detainee to the United States or to construct or modify facilities in the United States to house detainees. But it also includes specifying those bans don’t apply to planning or designing.

Earlier this year, when President Obama released his plan to close the detention facility, Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn McCainKasich: 'I think political parties are on their way out' Five fights for Trump’s first year Trump wall faces skepticism on border MORE (R-Ariz.) complained that it was a “Chinese menu” of options.

McCain had been one of the few Republicans in support of closing the facility, but the lack of the specifics in the White House plan caused the administration to lose him.

The administration asserted that it couldn’t get more specific because of the laws that were in place.

The full Senate is expected to take up the bill next week.

If the language passes the Senate, it would have to be reconciled with the House version of the bill, which does not include it.