TOPEKA, Kansas — 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.) on Friday vowed to block all legislation in the Senate with a prolonged filibuster if President Obama tries to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States.
A day after Tea Party hero Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Matthew McConaughey on potential political run: 'I'm measuring it' MORE (R-Texas) campaigned with him in Wichita, Roberts threatened to wage a marathon talk session similar to the one Cruz held last year to protest the implementation of ObamaCare.
“I stopped him once from trying to send a Gitmo terrorist to Leavenworth. I shall do it again, I shall do it again and if he tries it again I will shut down the Senate,” Roberts said, referring to the military prison located sixty miles east of his campaign headquarters in Topeka where he spoke to campaign volunteers.
Roberts made a similar threat back in 2009, when Obama originally signaled he wanted to relocate detainees to the United States. At the time, the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, as well as a maximum-security prison in Obama’s home state of Illinois were being considered to house the prisoners.
Roberts told reporters that he would hold the Senate floor for hours on end if necessary to stop Obama.
“We’re going to bring 179 terrorists to the United States including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?” Roberts said, referring to the detainee accused of masterminding the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Once you get control of the floor you just don’t leave it. Ted Cruz did that with regard to ObamaCare. If necessary, I’ll do it with terrorists,” he said.
Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnBiden and AOC's reckless spending plans are a threat to the planet NSF funding choice: Move forward or fall behind DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office MORE (R-Okla.), who is traveling through the state this week on Roberts’s campaign bus, said he would join the filibuster. Roberts predicted he would have broad support from his colleagues.
“I will have help on this. I can see John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhoopi Goldberg signs four-year deal with ABC to stay on 'The View' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Meghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden MORE there and I can see Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump pushes back on book claims, says he spent 'virtually no time' discussing election with Lee, Graham The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden meets with lawmakers amid domestic agenda panic MORE there and I can see Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate MORE there and I can see a whole bunch of other people there,” Roberts said.
Obama ordered the closure of the prison camp as one of his first acts as president, but the Congress overrode him by prohibiting the use of federal funds to transfer detainees.
Now the White House is considering going around Congress by using executive power to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, according to The Wall Street Journal. The president might also veto the annual defense authorization bill, which includes the ban on detainee transfers.
Republicans blasted the idea, warning it could have dangerous consequences.
“Why is the White House even discussing this as we battle a brutal enemy that has beheaded two Americans,” Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “Bringing dangerous terrorists into the U.S. makes no sense and sends the wrong message to our enemies and allies.”
White House officials questioned the Journal report.
“We do not know what new press reports are referring to when they say the Administration is ‘drafting options’ intended to ‘override a congressional ban,’” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
Still, Hayden noted that the administration had “made clear many times” that it continued “to object to congressional restrictions” on detainee transfers.
“The president has been clear about the administration’s strategy with respect to Guantanamo Bay,” she continued. “To the greatest extent possible and consistent with our national security interests, detainees will be repatriated or resettled, or prosecuted in Federal courts or military commission proceedings.”
But the White House spokesperson also said would “call on members of both parties to work together to ensure that Congress lifts the remaining restrictions and enables the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.”
The escalating partisan fight over Guantanamo could imperil the chances of confirming a successor to Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderOregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps Christie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group Democrats look to state courts as redistricting battle heats up MORE in the lame-duck session after the election.
The new attorney general would play a major role in any effort to try and convict suspected terrorists in civilian courts.
Holder announced in 2009 that Mohammed would face a civilian trial in New York for the murder of nearly 3,000 people in the 2001 collapse of the World Trade Center.
A year and a half later, the Obama administration reversed itself and announced it would try Mohammed before a military commission in Cuba because of the congressional restriction on moving detainees to the United States. A defense lawyer working on the case told The New York Daily News earlier this year that the military trial may not reach a conclusion until after 2017.
— Justin Sink contributed.