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House Votes to Block Prisoner Transfers from Guantanamo Bay

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, September 15, 2016, US Representative Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) voted in favor of legislation to block attempts by the Obama (D) Administration to transfer prisoners and close the prison at the Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

HR5351 passed by a vote of 244 to 174. The bill would block efforts by the Obama Administration to bring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the United States or to transfer prisoners to another country.

Congressman Byrne said in a statement, “By attempting to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and release hardened terrorists, I fear this President is once again putting politics above national security. I fear he is more concerned about keeping a campaign promise than he is about keeping the American people – especially our service members fighting in the Middle East – safe.”

Rep. Byrne added, “Today’s vote sends a clear message that there is bipartisan opposition to the President’s efforts to close the prison. Instead of letting terrorists free, the Obama Administration should be focused on ways to combat radical Islamic terrorism and defeat groups like ISIS.”

Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) wrote in his own statement, “Last November, Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified the law “currently does not allow” the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States. In January, Defense Secretary Ash Carter agreed. Additionally, last fall, the President signed into law the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, which included language to halt the transfer of detainees to US soil. Nonetheless, President Obama continues to transfer detainees to other countries in an effort to close the prison before the end of his term.”

Rep. Gowdy continued, “According to the Director of National Intelligence, nearly one-third of detainees currently or formerly held at Guantanamo Bay are suspected or confirmed of re-engaging in terrorism. Today the House passed HR5351, introduced by Rep. Jackie Walorski, which bans the transfer or release of detainees from Guantanamo Bay until either the end of this year or the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017. While the President is risking our national security to fulfill campaign promises he never should have made, Congress will continue to put our national security first.”

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said in a statement, “The news that two more former Guantanamo detainees have returned to the fight underscores the need for this action. The administration should heed the will of the House and cease its planned transfers of more terrorists back to their host countries. For the president, this is about keeping a campaign promise. For us, this is about keeping Americans safe. I appreciate Congresswoman Walorski bringing this timely bill to the floor.”

HR5351 was sponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski’s (R-Indiana). The legislation passed by a vote of 244 to 174.

The bill now goes to the US Senate.

Congressman Bradley Byrne is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.


Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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