Dem blasts Gitmo spending in House bill

In addition to the infrastructure funding, the bill released by Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) would once again prohibit transferring detainees to the United States, as well as include restrictions for transferring them to other countries.

McKeon’s measure would strike at the heart of a renewed effort from President Obama to close Guantánamo, a pledge he made in the first week of his first term.

Obama said in a speech last month that he was making another push to close the detention facility, which he called “a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.”

Obama said in his speech that he would be re-starting transfers of cleared detainees to Yemen. Of the 86 detainees who have been cleared for release, 56 are from Yemen.

Obama also said that he had told the Defense Department to begin looking for a location to hold military commissions for detainees within the United States, a key step in closing down Guantánamo.

One of the political obstacles Obama faces is finding a prison on U.S. soil where detainees can be held, something that ran into bipartisan opposition in 2009.

As the first legislation to deal with Gitmo since Obama's speech, the Defense authorization bill is sure to generated heated debate over funding to Guantánamo and restrictions on transferring detainees. Smith said Monday that he would be proposing multiple amendments when the Defense authorization bill is marked up on Wednesday “to help close this unnecessary and counterproductive facility.”

While Obama has backing from Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (R-Ariz.) to close Gitmo, many Republicans are staunchly opposed to closing the prison. They have warned that detainees who are released will re-enter the terror fight.

A report from the Director of National Intelligence last year found 28 percent of 602 released detainees either re-engaged or are suspected of re-joining the terror fight.