President Obama’s 5-year-old campaign to close the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, suffered a major setback as lawmakers finalizing the annual defense policy bill rejected steps toward shuttering the facility.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters on Monday that the final bill omits a provision giving the president the authority to transfer terror suspects to the United States if Congress signs off on a comprehensive plan to close the prison.
Levin had pushed for the authority and hailed it in May as creating “a path to close Guantanamo.” With lawmakers rushing to complete the defense bill in this month’s lame-duck session, Levin said proponents were unable to prevail.
“Our language … (on Guantanamo) … will not be in,” Levin said.
The House and Senate are expected to vote and overwhelmingly approve the sweeping policy bill in the coming days, sending it to Obama.
Here “overwhelmingly” means “more than a two-thirds veto-proof margin”, which of course requires a significant number of congressional Democrats to screw Obama over on closing Gitmo and not just the GOP. So after this becomes law, and it will, even if Gitmo does close, the President can’t do anything with the detainees who are there as far as moving them to the US. They’d have to be housed in another foreign facility.
So no, Gitmo is not going to close, and every time President Obama tries to do something about it, Congress throws a veto-proof bill on his desk saying “The hell you ever will.”
If anybody has a viable plan as to how President Obama can actually close Gitmo in this environment, where Congress keeps moving the goalposts and we keep re-electing 95% of the Congress I’m all ears.