May 7th, 2009
06:44 PM ET
6 years ago

Dems press Obama on Guantanamo Bay detainees

Rep. Obey, a Democrat, added the requirement that directs the administration to provide details on where Guantanamo prisoners would be transferred.
Rep. Obey, a Democrat, added the requirement that directs the administration to provide details on where Guantanamo prisoners would be transferred.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - On the same day House Republican leaders accused the administration of endangering national security by possibly transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S., House Democrats demanded President Obama submit a plan to Congress within six months spelling out what the administration will do with the prisoners when it closes the facility.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wisconsin, Thursday added the requirement to the $96.7 billion war funding bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. It directs the administration to provide details on where Guantanamo prisoners would be transferred, the cost of shutting down the facility and the cost of securing prisoners at other detention centers. The report is due by Oct. 1, 2009.

Earlier this week, Obey denied the administration's request for $80 million to close down the prison in Cuba, saying "so far as we can tell there is yet no concrete program for that." Although he supports the President's plan to close the facility, Obey told reporters on Mondayhe needed to see more details before signing off on any funding.

Obey took the issue a step further Thursday by attaching the demand for a report to must-pass legislation.

Obey's move comes as House Republicans introduced a bill called the “Keep Terrorists Out of America Act.” It would bar the administration from moving any detainee to the U.S. without first getting approval from the state's Governor and state legislature.

Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, said, "The president made a decision to close Gitmo to fulfill a campaign promise, perhaps to satisfy world opinion, without any way thinking through the consequences of his action or what was going to happen next, where these detainees were going to go."

Republicans on the Appropriations Committee also tried to add Guantanamo Bay restrictions to the war funding bill. Virginia Republican Frank Wolf wanted to prohibit any release of a detainee until a detailed plan was presented to Congress. Rep Todd Tiarht, R-Kansas, proposed barring taxpayer money to transfer prisoners to the United States. Democrats rejected both of these amendments but supported Obey's alternative.

The House is scheduled to vote on the war funding bill next week.


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