No plan, no money, they say:
The Senate voted on Wednesday to yank money for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp from a war spending bill, delivering a setback to President Obama in his efforts to shutter the prison by the start of 2010.
By a vote of 90-6, the Senate approved an amendment that not only blocks supplemental funds from being used to close Guantanamo and move detainees to U.S. soil, but also orders that no funds already in U.S. coffers be redirected toward that purpose.
Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the vote to strip the $80 million Obama had wanted should not be seen as a rebuke to the administration but a “wake up call.”
He said it is “up to the administration to fashion a plan that can win the support of the American people and members of Congress.”
Obama is trying to do exactly that with a speech Thursday meant to shed light on how the administration expects to transfer 240 detainees off the island. He wants to keep Democratic unrest from derailing his plans to close the detention camp.
The speech already appears to be overdue, considering the resistance and mixed messages coming from top-ranking Democrats over the issue on Capitol Hill.
The amendment Wednesday also precludes the upgrade of any U.S. facility or the building of any new facility to house detainees. The supplemental bill on which senators are voting lasts until the new budget year, which starts on Oct 1.
The amendments complicating Guantanamo closure don’t stop there. This afternoon, the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that would mandate a U.S. threat assessment for every single detainee at Gitmo.
On top of this – more bad news for Obama:
A federal judge says the United States can continue to hold some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without any charges.
U.S. District Judge John Bates’ opinion issued Tuesday night limited the Obama administration’s definition of who can be held. But he said Congress in the days after Sept. 11, 2001 gave the president the authority to hold anyone involved in planning, aiding or carrying out the terrorist attacks.
Just how did the GOP beat Obama on Gitmo? Byron York has an analysis.