Senator threatens to block nominees to keep Guantánamo open

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Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is threatening to block more of President Obama’s nominees to prevent executive action shutting down the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.  

“An act of Congress would be required to move detainees to the mainland,” Roberts said in a statement Wednesday. “I will place holds on any nominee necessary to prevent this unilateral action.”
{mosads}White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday refused to rule out the president using executive action to close the Cuban facility if Congress doesn’t act.

“At this point, I would not take anything off the table in terms of the president doing everything that he can to achieve this critically important national security objective,” Earnest told reporters.

Reuters reported Wednesday that a new plan to close the facility was coming in a matter of days, and would include moving some detainees to the United States.

But the possibility of moving Guantánamo Bay detainees into the country has gained fierce pushback from Republicans, including Roberts. The Pentagon has scouted facilities in a handful of states, including South Carolina and Colorado.

The Kansas Republican added on Wednesday that “threatening to shut down Guantánamo Bay by executive action shows President Obama’s blatant disregard for the law.”

Roberts also has a hold on Obama’s nominee to be secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning. His office noted on Wednesday that the Kansas senator informed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of his intention to block the nominee in late September.

A defense policy bill passed earlier this year continues a one-year ban on moving detainees to the mainland. Obama vetoed the bill over an extra $38 billion in war funding.

Lawmakers have suggested they won’t change the Guantánamo restrictions in the second version of the National Defense Authorization Act that they plan to send to the president. 

Tags Mitch McConnell Pat Roberts

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