On Thursday, the United States Senate voted against the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees, despite veto threats from the White House. The measure was an amendment to the annual Defense Authorization Bill, which failed by a vote of 54-41, with 10 Democrats voting against their party in favor of the amendment.
The vote came just hours after a memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget warning that senior advisors would recommend “that the President veto the bill” if it arrives on his desk in its current form. Additionally, the memo added that the White House “continues to oppose the prohibition on funding to construct, acquire or modify a detention facility in the United States to house any individual detained at Guantanamo.”
Though the memo also outlines a number of perceived problems with the bill, the Guantanamo concern is the first item listed.
President Obama made clear during his reelection run that he was still interested in closing Guantanamo Bay, something he has been promising since his first presidential campaign. In an interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show last month, Obama reiterated that agenda: “I still want to close Guantanamo,” he said, according to a media pool report, but “we haven’t been able to get that through Congress.”
After the 2008 election, Obama ordered that Gitmo be closed and that detainees be sent to Thomson Correctional Center — a nearly empty prison in Illinois that the president had handpicked. However, in 2010, Congress drafted language that banned the transfer of those prisoners from overseas to America and added it to the Defense Authorization Act.
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Photo of Thomson Correctional Center: AP Images