McConnell: Obama must rule out closing Gitmo on his own
© Cameron Lancaster

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate MORE (R-Ky.) wants the White House to rule out any unilateral action to close Guantánamo Bay and move detainees into the United States. 

"It's time the president finally rule that option out categorically," McConnell said Wednesday. "My own hope is that the commander in chief will not put his own chain of command in the position of having to carry out an unlawful direct order."
 
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McConnell added that any such move would be illegal because of provisions included repeatedly in legislation — including an annual defense policy bill — that ban the administration from bringing detainees into the United States. 
 
"So let's not pretend there's even the faintest of pretenses for some pen-and-pad phone gambit here," he said. "The president now has the duty to follow the laws he himself signed."
 
The White House handed over a long-awaited plan for closing the Cuban facility on Tuesday, which included moving some detainees into the United States. The plan doesn't specify where the detainees would be located but instead proposes roughly a dozen U.S. facilities as alternatives. 
 
McConnell — who said the plan was more like a "research project" — suggested that by moving detainees into the United States, Obama won't actually be fulfilling his long-standing campaign pledge to close the facility. 
 
"Changing the detention center's ZIP code is not the solution," he added. "It's not even serious." 
 
McConnell supports keeping Guantánamo Bay open. 
 
While the White House's move adds new life to a looming battle over Guantánamo Bay, Republicans quickly rejected the president's plan after sending signals for months that they had little interest in working with him to close the facility.