Senate passes amendment delaying Guantanamo closure funds

[JURIST] Members of the US Senate [official website] on Tuesday voted 90-6 [roll call] to approve an amendment [S AMDT 1133 materials] eliminating $80 million from pending legislation intended to fund the closure of the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention facility. Introduced by Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) [official websites] and co-sponsored by five Republican senators, the measure prohibits using any funding provided by the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 [HR 2346 materials] to "transfer, relocate, or incarcerate Guantanamo Bay detainees to or within the United States." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said during a press conference [transcript] that release of the funding would depend on the availability of a detailed plan from President Barack Obama [official profile], and does not need to be considered with the supplemental appropriations bill:

This is neither the time nor the bill to deal with this. Democrats under no circumstances will move forward without a comprehensive, responsible plan from the president. We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [official website] introduced a separate amendment [S AMDT 1136 materials] which would require Obama to submit periodic reports to Senate leaders providing a "threat assessment" of all detainees then held at Guantanamo Bay. McConnell has been criticized [JURIST report] Obama's plan to close the detention facility, saying that the administration "doesn't know what to do with" the 240 detainees currently being held there. A cloture vote on the appropriations bill is expected by Thursday.

In January, Obama issued an executive order [text; JURIST report] directing the military prison be closed "as soon as practicable and no later than one year from the date of this order." Last month, top US officials met with European counterparts to discuss the transfer [JURIST report] of many of the detainees to other countries before the facility closes. The European Parliament called on its member countries to accept [JURIST report] Guantanamo detainees, and Lithunia, Ireland, Germany, and Portugal [JURIST reports] have expressed willingness to accept them.

 

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