Congress will use every tool in its toolbox to block the White House from unilaterally closing the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home 'The View' plans series of conservative women as temporary McCain replacements MORE (R-Ariz.) warned on Thursday.
A day after the White House refused to rule out acting along to close the controversial facility, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman said that it was “disgraceful” that the administration would sidestep Capitol Hill.
“It’s disgraceful, because I have asked for six and a half years for this administration to come forward with a plan — a plan that we could implement and close Guantanamo,” McCain told reporters off the Senate floor on Thursday. McCain himself has tried to close the Cuban facility.
“He lies when he says that he really wants to close Guantanamo with the cooperation of Congress, because he’s never sent over a plan,” McCain continued.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that he would “not take anything off the table” with regard to Guantanamo. Closing the military detention facility was a 2008 campaign promise of President Obama’s that remains unfulfilled.
The administration has transferred a handful of detainees out of the facility in recent days, which could be interpreted as new momentum on the controversial issue. There are currently 112 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay.
According to reports, the White House is preparing to unveil a new plan in the coming days to close the prison.
“That plan should be approved by Congress,” McCain said on Thursday. “They’re going to try and do it by executive order. You’re going to see attempts by Congress to reverse that, including [through] funding mechanisms.”
Obama vetoed a defense policy bill last month, partly because of language restricting where Guantanamo prisoners could be moved. A new version of the bill — which kept those restrictions but reversed course on budgetary maneuvers — sailed through the House on Thursday. The president has indicated he will not veto the new version over its Guantanamo Bay provision.