Senate proposal to close Gitmo will face stiff opposition

Senate proposal to close Gitmo will face stiff opposition
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The Senate Armed Services Committee unveiled on Thursday a proposed pathway to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility and bring detainees to the U.S., setting up a fight with the House, which sharply disagrees. 

The Senate panel passed an annual defense bill that allows the administration to close the facility and transfer detainees, if it provides a plan Congress approves of.

At the same time, the House is due to pass a defense bill on Friday that would extend current restrictions, as well as add additional ones, on any detainee transfers from Guantánamo. 


The Republican-controlled chamber also rejected a Democratic amendment on Thursday evening to close the facility by 2018. 

The Senate bill extends the current restrictions on detainee transfers but would require a plan from the Defense secretary that details a case-by-case determination on the disposition of each current detainee. 

That would include the legal challenges of bringing them to the U.S. and additional authorities that would be needed. The bill would limit the rights and claims detainees have if they were moved to the U.S. 

The plan would also address how the Pentagon would treat future combatants captured under the laws of war. Congress would then have to approve the plan before it is implemented, and restrictions on domestic and foreign transfers would be mostly lifted. 

Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Romney: Trump 'has distanced himself from some of the best qualities of the human character' MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), who favors closing the facility but has long asked the administration for a plan, called it a "bipartisan compromise." 

The White House's budget office earlier this week reissued a veto threat against the bill if it were to contain the House's provisions on Guantánamo, among other issues. 

"The restrictions contained in this bill are unwarranted and threaten to interfere with the Executive Branch’s ability to determine the appropriate disposition of detainees," the White House said in a statement Wednesday. 

But McCain said on Thursday, "I hope that if we complete ... this proposal about Guantánamo Bay — which I am convinced is a very workable proposal — the president would be then more inclined to sign the bill, since we all know that was the president's commitment when he came to office back in 2008." 

The bill's Guantánamo proposal first faces a fight on the Senate floor from Republicans. 

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief Iran, Venezuela puts spotlight on Trump adviser John Bolton MORE (R-Okla.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, called the proposal's inclusion "my greatest disappointment in the bill." 

"I intend to fight this misguided policy," he said in a statement after the Armed Services Committee approved the bill. 

Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteSinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race New Hampshire senator to ask 2020 Dems to back repeal of state residency law Schultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid MORE (R-N.H.), another panel member, and four other Republican lawmakers earlier this year introduced a bill that would add more restrictions, citing a nearly 30 percent rate of suspected and confirmed recidivism cases among released detainees. 

Nonetheless, the bill passed the panel in a 22-4 vote, with ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedTrump, Europe increasingly at odds on Iran Let's stop treating student borrowers like second-class citizens HUD chief Carson broke law with unauthorized purchases, GAO says MORE (D-R.I.) and Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandO'Rourke says he would 'absolutely' do Fox News town hall Gillibrand 'very unhappy' with 'Game of Thrones' finale Gillibrand endorses DC statehood: Democracy doesn't mean 'for some of us' MORE (N.Y.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonRepublicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments The muscle for digital payment Rubio says hackers penetrated Florida elections systems MORE (D-Fla.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Alabama abortion law sparks fears Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade The CASE Act is an opportunity for creators to have rights and remedies MORE (Hawaii) all voting against it. 

Democrats favor closing the facility, arguing it is a recruiting tool for terrorists. Closing Guantánamo would also fulfill a 2007 campaign promise from President Obama. 

There are 122 detainees at the facility, with 57 cleared for release but not eligible for transfer due to restrictions. Most of the cleared detainees are Yemeni but are barred from returning to any country where there have been confirmed cases of recidivism, or where the government is not able to monitor them. 

The Defense secretary can waive the current restrictions after personally certifying that risks will be mitigated, but former Defense secretaries in the administration have expressed caution in doing so.

Earlier this month, Democratic Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThis week: Democrats, White House set for infrastructure, budget talks Senate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Senate confirms controversial 9th Circuit pick without blue slips MORE (Calif.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLet's stop treating student borrowers like second-class citizens Trump's immigration push faces Capitol Hill buzzsaw Hillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group MORE (Ill.), and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGraham says Bolton briefed him on Iran, tells Trump to 'stand firm' Overnight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Key Republican 'convinced' Iran threats are credible MORE (Vt.) urged the administration to speed up transfers before the end of the year — presumably before any legislation adding more restrictions could be enacted.