With both the House and Senate passing the annual defense bill, that makes the closing of Guantanamo Bay that much more unlikely.
For the Obama administration, the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison has been that great white policy whale in which they could never capture. Think Moby Dick, but with all the vengeance and hatred being squared off in a dark cell off the coast of Cuba!
While in the past few months President Barack Obama has racked up some impressive victories (nuclear deal with Iran, proliferation of the Affordable Care Act, courts legalizing gay marriage, ect.) the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison has been one of those ever elusive political initiatives that has remained out of reach. After today, closing the prison has become much, much harder with the passage of a veto-proof defense bill.
Within the $607 billion defense bill – which in itself has been hotly contested over the past few weeks – there is a provision that would ban Guantanamo Bay detainees from entering the US. There are still around 112 individuals detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison, in which many would like to see transferred to other maximum security locations around the country, thus paving the way to close the Guantanamo site for good.
With the recent defense bill provision however, this makes it all but impossible.
In a 91 to 3 vote in the Senate, the defense bill easily passed with a bipartisan effort from both sides. Similar outcome happened in the House where it passed a week earlier with a 370 to 58 vote. In both cases the defense bill passed because there were other issues within the legislation that had to be thought about other than Guantanamo Bay’s closing.
For Republicans it was a smart move to put such an unpopular measure for many Democrats (and Sen. John McCain) in a legislation that was vital to pass. Having Democrats to swallow “the poison pill” makes it harder, if not impossible, for President Obama to close down Guantanamo as well as not having to worry about the issue for another two years, which by then a Republican president could be in office, making Guantanamo Bay prison closing a non-issue.
Some have commented that President Obama could still bypass Congressional approval and go straight into an executive order, but considering he himself will be signing the defense bill into law, it’s hard to see that holding any legitimacy. Also lawmakers could bring forth separate legislation, but considering it’s an election year in 2016, there is no way any lawmaker would touch such a controversial subject with a ten foot pole.
In the case of Guantanamo Bay prison closing, all the White House can do is know that the supporters of keeping the prison open got the better of them this time.
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia, Google Images)