House votes to condemn Obama for Guantánamo Bergdahl swap

The House Armed Services Committee voted Tuesday to condemn the president for violating a law to give Congress 30 days' advance notice before releasing Guantánamo Bay detainees. 

The vote, 34-25, condemned the president for deciding in May to release five senior Taliban leaders from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility without a 30-day notification required by law, in exchange for Afghanistan prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. 


“Today the Committee took one of many steps to hold the Administration accountable for breaking the law and putting Americans at risk with their ill-considered transfer of senior Taliban terrorists," Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said after the vote. 

Democrats on the committee accused their Republican colleagues of playing politics, as Republicans prepare to vote this week to allow a lawsuit against the president for overstepping his constitutional authority. 

All Republicans present voted for the resolution, while only two Democrats, Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), broke with their party to vote in favor. 

Ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) had proposed an amendment that would express displeasure with the president's failure to give Congress advance notice, but not condemn Obama for conducting the swap. His amendment failed 19-40. 

McKeon pointed out after the vote that although Smith's amendment failed, it was supported by many Democrats on the committee and proved that the majority disapproved with the president's actions. 

“Some might draw a partisan conclusion from today’s markup, but that is a false narrative," McKeon said. "Either by voting in favor of the underlying resolution, or by supporting Mr. Smith’s amendment, nearly every member of this committee expressed their feelings about the president’s disregard for the law." 

"That is a bipartisan rebuke no White House can be comfortable with," he said. 

Administration officials testified to the committee last month that they decided to not follow the law because it conflicted with the president's constitutional authority to protect U.S. citizens abroad.