Manchin: Congress must debate Guantánamo

After touring the U.S. facility at Guantánamo Bay last week, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinFormer coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics 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.


The West Virginia lawmaker led a bipartisan delegation on a fact-finding mission to Guantánamo on Friday. The group included Sens. Angus KingAngus KingOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing MORE (I-Maine), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-Maine), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Bottom Line MORE (R-Ill.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenators introduce bipartisan bill restricting police use of facial recognition tech Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Bill Gates visits Capitol to discuss climate change with new Senate caucus MORE (D-Del.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyWatchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand 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.