Manchin: Congress must debate Guantánamo

After touring the U.S. facility at Guantánamo Bay last week, Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Biden seeks to quell concerns over climate proposals MORE (D-W.Va.) said Monday that lawmakers must come up with an answer about what to do with its remaining detainees there.

President Obama has pledged to close the detainee facility, but Republicans have strongly objected to any move to release its inhabitants or transfer them to mainland U.S. facilities.

“I believe that Congress must debate what we do with the prisoners currently being housed there. The status quo is not an acceptable solution, and I am confident we can find a solution that protects Americans and responsibly manages our tax dollars,” Manchin said in a statement.

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The West Virginia lawmaker led a bipartisan delegation on a fact-finding mission to Guantánamo on Friday. The group included Sens. Angus KingAngus KingPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats GOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill MORE (I-Maine), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (R-Maine), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsManchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (D-Del.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden to have audience with pope, attend G20 summit Biden taps former Indiana Sen. Donnelly as ambassador to Vatican Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (D-Ind.).

The tour examined "detainee facilities and detention operations, the legal status of individual detainees, and the military commissions process that is used to try detainees," according to Manchin.

He praised the troops serving at the facility but said the detention center “at Guantanamo Bay does not make us safer, and it is wildly expensive.”

About 150 detainees remain at Guantánamo, and 80 have been deemed eligible for release.

Around 90 of those remaining are from Yemen, where al Qaeda operatives have repeatedly broken into prisons and released militants, making it difficult for the U.S. to return detainees there.

Last month, Republican lawmakers warned the administration against releasing any more prisoners while the U.S. is fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The White House enraged congressional lawmakers from both parties earlier this year when it decided to keep them in the dark ahead of the release of five Taliban commanders from Guantánamo in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.