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Republicans Warn White House on Gitmo Closure

Roberts. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Roberts. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Opponents of moving Guantánamo detainees to the U.S. mainland are firing a new round of warning shots ahead of an Obama administration plan regarding closing the facility.  

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told reporters Thursday he could hold up as many nominations as needed to try to thwart implementation of any executive actions on transferring individuals held at the prison facility at the naval base to the United States.  

“This administration has continually gone around the Congress and tried to figure out which button to push to irritate Congress the most,” Roberts said. “Well, he sure as hell has pushed my button. As I have said for years and years, we are not going to have terrorists from Gitmo come to Fort Leavenworth, the intellectual center of the Army, or any other location in the United States. That will not work. We will not let that happen.”  

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If President Barack Obama is going to use an executive order that runs afoul of the legislative intent of lawmakers, “Why do we even have a Congress?”  

Roberts was joined at a news conference by fellow Republican Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Cory Gardner of Colorado. Facilities in each of the states of the three senators have been visited as potential homes for people moved away from Guantánamo Bay.  

Gardner said he has asked Obama if appropriations law hasn’t already been violated merely by conducting site visits. Federal law generally prohibits spending money for purposes for which it was not appropriated.  

“It’s hard for me to believe that you can send a team to experts to analyze where you’re going to send detainees to fulfill a campaign process if you haven’t spent any money, and how does that not meet the ‘assist in the transfer’ definition of the law? The law is very clear,” Gardner said. “I’m simply waiting for the president to respond, and I’m still waiting, and certainly would receive a response very gladly.”  

At the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday the administration expected to send its plan for closing the detention facility to Capitol Hill “relatively soon.”  

John T. Bennett contributed to this report.

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