House votes to block transfer of Guantanamo detainees

© David P. Coleman
The House of Representatives has added an amendment to the annual military spending bill that would forbid the government from transferring prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp anywhere else in the world.

On Wednesday, lawmakers spent the day voting on amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual appropriations bill for the US military. One amendment, introduced by Representative Richard Hudson (R-North Carolina), would prohibit any funds in the NDAA to be used to transfer prisoners out of the camp – even to foreign countries. It was adopted by a voice vote.

“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 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.”

The prohibition on transferring detainees to foreign countries goes beyond what Republicans have asked for in the past. GOP lawmakers previously sought to keep the Obama administration from moving prisoners onto US soil from the Cuba-based camp, a measure the White House considers to be instrumental in fulfilling the president’s 2008 campaign promise to close the center.

The White House has threatened to veto the NDAA, largely because of language the defense bill had included concerning Guantanamo – even before Hudson’s amendment was voted on.

However, sources close to the administration recently indicated that President Barack Obama will abandon the push to close the facility, saying that the White House found that pressing issue might not help Democrats in the 2016 elections.

Twenty-eight of the 80 remaining detainees are already cleared for transfer, and the Pentagon has said that review boards are working more quickly than ever before to determine if more prisoners can be released.

The GOP has hardened its opposition to closing the camp after it was revealed earlier this month that at least a dozen detainees have gone on to participate in attacks that have killed at least six Americans.

“The bottom line here is the folks that are left at Guantanamo are the worst of the worst,” Hudson said, according to the Washington Post. “These are some of the most violent, dangerous criminals in the world.”