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Congress could block Guantanamo detainees in Illinois: House Republican leader

[JURIST] US House of Representatives minority leader John Boehner (R-OH) [official websites] said Thursday that Congress could potentially block the Obama administration's plan to purchase [JURIST report] the Thomson Correctional Center (TCC) [DOC backgrounder] in northwestern Illinois to house inmates from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Boehner said that at least two pieces of legislation would have to be approved before the detainees could be brought to Illinois and that he doubts either bill would pass [Chicago Sun-Times report]. Under current law [JURIST report], Guantanamo detainees may only be transferred to the US for prosecution, so that law would have to be changed. Congress would also have to pass a bill approving funding for the project. Boehner warned that he would not support war funding bills with either provision attached. A White House spokesperson vowed to work closely with Congress [Reuters report] until Guantanamo is closed.

Earlier this week, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] said that the decision to purchase the TCC could help close the Guantanamo prison facility [JURIST report] over the next several months. Holder expects the detention center to be closed by summer or early next fall at the latest. In October, Holder announced that the Obama administration would most likely miss its January deadline for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, echoing prior statements [JURIST reports] by top administration officials. US President Barack Obama originally issued the executive order to close Guantanamo within a year [JURIST report] last January 22, two days after taking office.

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