House bill would block funds for closing Gitmo

GOP-authored bill would de facto keep open detention center by blocking means to move detainees

Topics: Buck McKeon, House Republicans, Guantanamo Bay, gitmo, defense budget, House Armed Services Committee, ,

House bill would block funds for closing GitmoDetainees sit in a holding area at Camp X-Ray, inside Guantanamo Bay. (Credit: Reuters/Shane T. McCoy)

Less than two weeks since President Obama renewed his long-unfulfilled promise to close Guantanamo Bay Detention center, House Republicans have put forward a bill that would block the camp’s closing by foreclosing certain necessary expenditures. Part of a defense policy bill, drafted by Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., would make funds unavailable to move Gitmo’s 166 detainees — 80 of whom have been cleared for release, more than 100 of whom are on hunger strike. Via the AP:

The bill would keep the naval detention center open by prohibiting the Defense Department from spending any money to construct or modify facilities in the United States to house terror suspects from Guantanamo. The restriction would apply from the bill’s enactment through 2014.

It also would bar the Pentagon from spending any money to transfer prisoners to the United States or a foreign country. The bill provides a waiver, but the Defense Department would have to make several certifications to Congress.

Although Obama has pressed to close Guantanamo, the Pentagon in its latest budget request is seeking $450 million for it, including millions for upgrading the temporary facility and $40 million for a fiber optic cable. Past budgets have reflected the Washington contradiction of Obama waging a political fight to shutter the facility while the military calculates the financial requirements to keep the installation operating.

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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