The White House threatened on Tuesday to veto a Defense funding bill in part because it included a provision designed to ensure the Obama administration cannot transfer prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas or elsewhere in the United States.
Ft. Leavenworth was surveyed by Department of Defense officials as a possible site to house Guantanamo prisoners, although current federal law forbids the transfer of the detainees to U.S. facilities.
President Obama has threatened to veto legislation three times in 2015 and 2016 over Guantanamo provisions, yet he has signed them into law every time, said Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, who added language about the prison to the funding bill as an amendment.
“I’d hope he wouldn’t hold funding for our troops hostage over something that is already against the law,” the senator said.
The amendment, which passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent on Tuesday, would bar the administration from using money allotted to other projects to relocate any prisoners from Guantanamo or construct facilities to house them in the U.S.
The Obama administration quickly released a statement announcing that the president’s advisers would recommend he veto the bill if it included the Guantanamo amendment and other provisions, including language that would limit the size of the president’s National Security Council staff and place restrictions on interactions between the U.S. and Cuban militaries.
Obama campaigned on a promise to close Guantanamo.
“As the Administration has said many times before, the continued operation of the (Guantanamo) facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists,” the administration’s statement said. “Rather than taking the steps necessary to close the facility, this bill includes several provisions that would seek to extend its operation.”
The statement went on to criticize the legislation for failing to lift “unwarranted limitations on the transfer of detainees,” not including to foreign countries and for violating constitutional separation of powers principles.