Dan Gilmore / Nov. 11, 2015

Near-United Senate Sends Defense Bill to Obama

For now, Gitmo stays.

Well, there’s the response to Barack Obama’s veto: The vast majority of Democrats in the Senate joined Republicans to pass, in a 91-3 vote, the second iteration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). If Obama wants to close Guantanamo Bay now, he’ll have to do it against law and the will of the Senate. Obama vetoed the first Defense bill last month because he said there weren’t enough cuts and the legislation prevented him from closing the prison housing captured terrorists. The $607-billion budget goes back to Obama with $5 billion in additional cuts but keeps the prohibition on bringing Gitmo prisoners into the states. And while Obama may seethe and rage against his inability to close Guantanamo Bay, there is little he can do from a legal perspective. The “language is very clear that he can’t transfer the prisoners,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, “and this is language that was put in the defense bill when [Democrats] ran Congress in the early part of the Obama administration. The law is the law; it’s just that clear.” Expect the chief executive to quietly sign this one. The Senate’s vote was a powerful rebuke regarding his actions.

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