House to vote on banning all Guantánamo transfers

House to vote on banning all Guantánamo transfers
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The House will vote on whether to prevent the president from transferring any detainees out of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility in the wake of a report that some former prisoners have killed Americans. 

An amendment to a defense appropriations bill from Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) would prohibit using funds to transfer a Guantánamo detainee to “any other location.”

The House is slated to begin debating and voting on amendments later Wednesday.

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If enacted, Hudson’s amendment would be the strictest prohibition on transfers yet.

“We are at war with radical Islamic extremists, yet our commander-in-chief is so focused on closing Guantanamo Bay that he ignores the danger represented by these terrorists,” Hudson said in a written statement. “The American people are counting on us to protect them. The president’s plan is as dangerous as it is naive, and my amendment is another hurdle to make sure it never happens.”

As written now, the defense appropriations bill would continue bans on using funds to build or modify facilities in the United States to house detainees, or to transfer detainees stateside or specific foreign countries.

The White House has threatened to veto the appropriations bill, in part because of the Guantánamo restrictions already in the bill.

President Obama’s plan to close the facility hinges on bringing some detainees to the United States.

But in the face of the continued bans on doing so, the administration has focused on transferring detainees who are eligible to foreign countries. The idea is to bring the number of detainees remaining at Guantánamo to a figure low enough to make an argument for closing the facility.

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About 30 of the 80 remaining detainees are already cleared for transfer, and the Pentagon has said the pace of review boards has picked up to see if more can be cleared.

But Republican opposition to transferring detainees anywhere has hardened recently after it was revealed at least a dozen former detainees have gone on to launch attacks that have killed about a half-dozen Americans.

The recidivism rate of former detainees has been a contentious issue between the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers.

Republicans point to a 30 percent figure for detainees released by Presidents George W. Bush and Obama who are confirmed or suspected of re-engaging in terrorism.

Administration officials, meanwhile, highlight a 4.9 percent figure that represents the number of detainees released by Obama confirmed to be re-engaging in terrorism. Another 8 percent released by Obama are suspected of re-engaging.