President Obama would veto a bill offered by Senate Republicans that would effectively block the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay for the remainder of his presidency, the White House said Thursday.
The bill would suspend the transfer of high- or medium-risk terror suspects, and prohibit the president from sending a detainee to a country where a former Guantánamo prisoner returned and reengaged in terrorist activities.
It would also repeal an existing law that gives the president authority to transfer detainees, and reinstate a ban on detainees being returned to Yemen, which is currently undergoing a tumultuous and violent political transition.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the legislation would put "more constraints on a process that should be actually working faster," according to the Associated Press. He reiterated the White House's position that the prison at Guantánamo put U.S. national security at risk.
The legislation was introduced by Sen. 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 (R-N.H.) and backed by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman 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 (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump 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 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - House Democrats plagued by Biden agenda troubles MORE (R-S.C.) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks GOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam MORE (R-N.C.).
"The barbaric attacks in France underscore the threat posed by Islamist terrorism and the need for a common sense detention and interrogation policy to gather the intelligence necessary to prevent future attacks," Ayotte said when introducing the bill.
"Unfortunately, to fulfill a misguided campaign promise, the administration seems to be more interested in emptying and closing Guantánamo, rather than protecting the national security interests of the United States and the lives of Americans," she added.
Ayotte introduced the bill as the administration steps up its transfers of detainees.