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Guantanamo closure funds stripped by Senate, 90-6

Senators on Wednesday followed through with their vow to deny the Obama administration the necessary money to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Voting 90-6, the Senate stripped $80 million from a supplemental military funding bill, $50 million of which was designated to close the controversial prison and $30 million for a Justice Department investigation into interrogation techniques used there.

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The amendment by Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Oklahoma Republican James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike Sanders expresses 'serious concerns' with Biden's defense increase MORE — both of whom have personally toured the prison — actually goes beyond the military supplemental to deny the administration any past money it could use to close the prison and transfer the prisoners into the United States.

The language reads, “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act or any prior Act may be used to transfer, release or incarcerate any individual who was detained as of May 19, 2009 at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to or within the United States.”

Inouye was emphatic that Democrats still believe the prison should close, and that his amendment is only a “reality check” on the administration’s intent to close it without a plan for the detainees being held there.

“This amendment is not a referendum on closing Guantanamo,” Inouye said. “Instead, it should serve as a reality check since at this time the administration has not yet forwarded a coherent plan on foreclosing this prison.”

Inouye explained that simply restricting the money in the supplemental, as he did last week in the Appropriations Committee, wasn’t sending a clear enough message to the administration. After reading media reports over the weekend, he said, he began to worry that the entire supplemental could be threatened and began to consider yanking the funds totally.
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“Rather than cooling the passions of those who are justifiably concerned with the ultimate disposition of the prisoners, the funding which remained in the bill became a lightning rod far outshadowing its impact and dwarfing the more important elements of this critically needed bill,” he said. “The fact that the administration has not offered a workable plan at this point made that decision rather easy.”

But leaving the prison open, Inouye said, would allow al Qaeda a “powerful recruiting tool,” since the facility is a “symbol of the wrongdoing” of past abuses by the U.S. military such as at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Inhofe said just the opposite: that the U.S. needs the prison because it is the best alternative for the detainees rather than sending them to other countries or into America.

“None of the options are good, but this is one resource we have,” he said. “We need to keep it. We have to keep it. It is by far the best option.”

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THE MONEY: Dems kill funding to shut prison camp

THE GOP: Boehner urges party unity on Gitmo

THE DEMS: Harry Reid brushes off conflict with White House

THE WHITE HOUSE: Holding firm on closure plans