Senate Overwhelmingly Rejects Funding for Gitmo Closure

Posted May 20, 2009 at 12:20pm

Senate Democrats made good on their promise Wednesday to deny President Barack Obama funding to close the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, military prison.The chamber voted, 90-6, to strip funding in the $91.3 billion supplemental war spending bill to shutter the facility, with only a handful of Democrats voting against the move because they want to get the closure under way.Instead, Senate Democrats added language barring Obama from using funds in the supplemental “or any other Act may be obligated or expended— for the transfer or incarceration of any detainee in the U.S. It would also prohibit Obama from constructing or renovating any existing U.S. prison in order to house Guantánamo detainees.Democratic leaders acknowledged Tuesday that they decided to reverse themselves on providing $80 million to close the facility because Obama has not yet presented a plan on where to transfer or house the hundreds of suspected terrorists held there. The list of detainees includes the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Obama is expected to lay out such a plan Thursday.The Senate’s move was seen as a repudiation of Obama’s plan, considering the bill would now bar any detainee from ever coming to the U.S., even to stand trial for terrorism-related crimes.