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Senate GOP bill would halt Gitmo transfers

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Senate Republicans are hoping to crack down on President Obama’s ability to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees as he works to shutter the controversial Cuban prison in his final year.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced legislation Tuesday to prohibit permanently closing the facility. Her proposal would make permanent a current ban on bringing detainees into the United States and block the White House from releasing detainees to other countries through September 2017.

{mosads}”Our nation needs a common-sense detention and interrogation policy that keeps captured terrorists off the battlefield and enables us to gather the intelligence necessary to prevent future attacks,” she said in a statement. “This administration seems more interested in releasing terrorists and bringing the remainder to the United States in order to close Guantanamo and fulfill a misguided and dangerous campaign promise.” 

GOP Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Steve Daines (Mont.), and Jerry Moran (Kan.) have signed onto Ayotte’s legislation.

Ayotte has also placed a hold on Jennifer O’Connor’s nomination to be the Pentagon’s general counsel as she angles to get the administration to hand over information on Guantanamo Bay detainee transfers. 

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) also introduced legislation this week to limit the administration’s ability to transfer detainees to unstable countries or state sponsors of terrorism. 

Countries that would be impacted by the ban include Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Iran. 

“Allowing the transfer of these dangerous criminals to terror hotspots only makes it easier for them to re-join in the fight against America,” Kirk said.

Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), Cory Gardner (Colo.), James Lankford (Oka.), James Inhofe (Okla.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) have signed onto Kirk’s bill. 

The administration handed over a plan to close the facility earlier this year, including moving some detainees into the United States. The move would allow the president to fulfill a long-standing campaign pledge. 

Republicans, however, quickly panned his plan. 

The new GOP bills come after the Pentagon announced Monday that it had transferred two Guantanamo Bay detainees to Senegal. The Obama administration is working to reduce the prison’s population and close the facility before the president leaves office. 

The latest transfer brought the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to 89. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed Obama Tuesday for releasing detainees over concerns they could rejoin terrorist groups.  

“This is precisely the wrong time to send experienced, hardened fighters back in to the conflict,” he said. “We must use the remaining months of the Obama Administration as a year of transition to better posture our military to meet the threats we will face.” 

Republicans are also pushing the Obama administration to present a new plan to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after terrorist attacks in Brussels last month.

This story was updated at 4:32 p.m.

Tags Cory Gardner Jerry Moran Jim Inhofe Kelly Ayotte Mark Kirk Mitch McConnell Orrin Hatch Pat Roberts Richard Burr Roger Wicker Shelley Moore Capito Tim Scott
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