GOP senators are gearing up for a battle over Guantanamo Bay, as they seek to use an annual defense policy bill to crack down on President Obama's ability to close the facility.
Sens. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Tuesday filed an amendment — to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — to reduce foreign aid for countries that "lose control" of transferred detainees.
"While Gitmo remains the safest and most secure place on the planet to lock up enemy combatants... any country that accepts Gitmo transferees and loses control of these terrorists should face severe consequences," Kirk said in a statement.
While the defense bill largely holds the line on current restrictions, Republicans have repeatedly raised concerns about former Guantanamo Bay detainees rejoining terrorist groups after being transferred to another country.
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) has also filed an amendment that would require the Obama administration to hand over a declassified report about terror activities carried out by former Guantanamo detainees.
His proposal would also require the Obama administration to detail the past terrorist activities of any detainee that it wants to transfer from Guantanamo.
Senate Republicans have repeatedly pushed for the president to publicly release more information about which detainees are being transferred, suggesting that he's currently able to play down national security risks in an effort to close the facility.
Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsBob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Kan.) is also pushing to block the Defense Department from asking Congress to move around funding to transfer or release detainees, or for any construction tied to detainees being transferred or released.
The amendment comes after Roberts held up Eric Fanning's nomination to lead the Army for months over concerns that Obama could move Guantanamo detainees into his home state.
Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranIt's time for Congress to act before slow mail turns into no mail Kaine says he has votes to pass Iraq War repeal in Senate Seven-figure ad campaign urges GOP to support infrastructure bill MORE (R-Kan.) is also trying to strip out a provision from the defense bill that would allow the administration to plan and design Guantanamo Bay alternatives.
The amendment is backed by GOP Sens. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTop Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal Austin, Milley to testify on Afghanistan withdrawal The Pentagon budget is already out of control: Some in Congress want to make it worse MORE (Okla.), Steve Daines (Mont.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchCongress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 MORE (Utah), Cory GardnerCory GardnerProtecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program MORE (Colo.) and Roberts.
"In President Obama’s desperate attempt to close GITMO and fulfill a campaign promise, he is compromising our national security and has yet to provide a comprehensive plan that legally justifies his closure strategy as mandated by Congress,” Moran said in a statement.
The Kansas Republican also proposed a separate amendment to add additional hurdles before the Obama administration can transfer a detainee. That includes requiring the Pentagon to certify to Congress that a detainee no longer poses a threat to the United States within 30 days of making that determination.
The floor fight over Guantanamo Bay comes as Republicans are hoping to use the defense bill to lock in current restrictions and undercut the president's ability to close the controversial facility before he leaves office.
The White House has not ruled out leapfrogging Congress and closing the facility unilaterally even though top administration officials have said the move would be illegal.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to take a legal battle over Guantanamo Bay off the table earlier this month, but urged Congress to lift the current restrictions.
"We just need Congress to remove those obstacles so that we can move forward effectively in closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and doing it in a way that will enhance the national security of the American people," he told reporters at the time.