Democratic aides agreed that the leadership essentially decided to strip the funding because they did not see the need for Members to take politically difficult votes on the issue. And it appeared that leaders would have had a difficult time actually finding the votes to beat back expected GOP amendments to strip the money or bar terrorism detainees from entering the U.S.
Even consistently loyal Democrats said the presidents request was badly timed.
I think this money was premature, Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. Feinstein indicated that Republican attacks on the dangers of housing terror suspects in U.S. prisons caused the Democrats to backtrack on the funding, even as she argued that cutting the money was the right thing to do now.
I think Americans dont know that we already have major terrorists and serial killers housed in supermax federal prisons from which no one has ever escaped and is not in anyones community, Feinstein said. She added that the GOPs argument is just a lot of bull, but its a problem because it gets people upset.
Republicans welcomed the news that Democrats were backpedaling.
Now I understand our friends on the other side of the aisle are shall I say moving in our direction rapidly on this issue, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
Still, McConnell said Democrats were not going to avoid tough votes just because the funding would not be in the bill.
McConnell himself offered an amendment Tuesday that would require the administration to do a threat assessment on every detainee at Guantánamo. That assessment would have to include whether the detainee is likely to become a repeat terrorism
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.