House Narrowly Kills Amendment to Keep Gitmo Open

Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:15pm

Updated: 4:55 p.m.A House Republican amendment to prevent the closure of the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, prison failed by one vote on Thursday. Lawmakers defeated 213-212 the amendment offered by Appropriations ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.). Of the 212 who voted to keep the detention facility operating, 39 were Democrats and 173 were Republicans. Just two Republicans, Reps. Timothy Johnson (Ill.) and Ron Paul (Texas), voted to kill the amendment.Lewis said the vote underscores Congressional uncertainty about the Obama administration’s pledge to shutter the prison.Johnson said he wants to see Guantánamo closed but wants to find a solution so the detainees are not brought to the United States.”I think there’s been major abuses at Guantánamo and we can do better,” Johnson said. “We need to set a good example as Americans, and Guantánamo is not a good example.” “This is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed before any more prisoners are released or transferred,— Lewis said in a statement after the vote. “These detainees are a serious threat to the U.S. and our allies. People around the world are concerned about these transfers and releases and what it means for their safety — as evidenced by the large public protests in Bermuda over the release of four Uigher detainees onto their island.—Congressional Republicans have expressed concern that President Barack Obama has not provided a detailed plan for where the detainees would be housed if Guantánamo Bay were to close. Last month, House Republicans introduced the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act that would have barred suspected terrorists imprisoned at the facility from being transferred to prisons inside the United States.