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House approves bill blocking transfer of Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday approved [HR5351 actions] a bill [text, PDF] that would temporarily block the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The bill, which passed with a 244-174 vote, would prevent [CNN report] transfers until a 2017 military budget is passed or until President Barack Obama leaves office. The Obama administration has cleared 20 of the remaining 61 detainees for transfer. The bill is not expected to survive as the White House has threatened [UPI report] to veto even if the bill does pass through the Senate. Proponents of the bill argue it is necessary due to the recurrences of recidivism [DNI report]. To date, more than 693 detainees have been released during the Bush and Obama administrations, 122 of whom are known to have returned to militancy, while others are "suspected" of having returned to terrorist activity.

Last month Vice President Joe Biden stated at a press conference in Sweden that he hopes and expects [JURIST report] that the Guantanamo prison will be closed before Obama leaves office. Also last month the US Department of Defense announced the transfer [JURIST report] of 15 Guantanamo detainees to the United Arab Emirates. Earlier in August a US Senator released a Pentagon Report [JURIST report] detailing the profiles of those currently detained in and recently released from the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) concluded that closing the facility would not be in the US' best interests and would pose a safety risk. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told Fox News in January that Obama intends to fulfill [JURIST report] his promise to close the Guantanamo detention facility before leaving office. Last November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA), which prohibits Guantanamo detainees from being transferred into the US. Obama signed the bill into law, despite the fact that it could delay his plan to close the prison. The NDAA comes after the DOD said [JURIST report] they were sending teams to review three Colorado prisons as part of Obama's efforts to close the facility last October. The Guantanamo Review Task Force was created in response to a 2009 presidential executive order to review the status of all detainees. In September White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said Obama was considering a "wide array" of options" [JURIST report] for closing the prison.

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