(PresidentialInsider.com)- House Democrats are once again trying to advance legislation to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention center, this time by including its closure in the defense spending bill for the next fiscal year. But some lawmakers believe its closure won’t make it through the Senate.
Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, told the Hill this week that “no rational person” would support the measure, calling Gitmo “an absolutely vital institution.”
Ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers said the Democrats’ slim majorities in both chambers make it difficult for them to get something this controversial through.
Despite staunch opposition, not just from Republicans but also some Democrats, the lawmakers behind the push to close Gitmo say it is worth the fight.
Minnesota Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum, chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Defense told the Hill that keeping Gitmo open is not a “good use of taxpayers’ money.” She said the money should be going “to make a difference in our national security.”
Vermont Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy believes Gitmo should have closed years ago. He told the Hill that he would gladly vote for any legislation that shuts Gitmo down. However, Leahy conceded that there haven’t been the votes in Congress to get such a measure passed.
Rep. Rogers said many Americans are concerned that closing Guantanamo Bay would mean relocating terror suspects to the United States. Rogers believes Americans are worried that once they “get into this country,” they would go into our legal system.
House Appropriations Committee Republican Kay Granger of Texas told the Hill that those detained in Gitmo are “the worst of the worse” and if the facility is to close, “we need assurance that they will never be moved to the United States.”
Currently, three dozen detainees remain in Gitmo. Of those, 19 are eligible for transfer. Another five are eligible for a periodic review board, nine are undergoing military commissions while another three have been convicted in military commissions.