The House Votes, Once Again, to Block the Closure of Gitmo

For perhaps the final time of the Obama presidency, Congress has voted to prohibit him from closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of fiscal 2017 will be the last NDAA signed by President Obama and, among other terrible things, it will block the transfer of detainees to mainland prisons.

Republicans shot down an amendment by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to strike parts of the bill that renew a longstanding ban on moving Guantanamo detainees to the United States. The embargo has kept Obama from fulfilling a campaign pledge to shutter the facility. The White House said the restrictions interfere with the executive branch's authority to decide when and where to prosecute prisoners.

As you probably know, President Obama signed an executive order on his first day in office to close the prison, but Congress has voted every single year since then to keep the prison open.

In the early years of the Obama administration, opposition to closing the prison was bipartisan. Congressional Democrats voted with Republicans to prohibit the president from closing the prison on multiple occasions. In more recent years, however, opposition has been almost exclusively Republican.

There is good reason to believe this version of the NDAA will be vetoed by the president because it also includes the Republican amendment to reverse the president's executive order barring LGBT discrimination among federal contractors.

I expect the GOP's anti-LGBT amendment will eventually be stripped from the bill, but I don't expect the measure to block the closure of Gitmo will be.

It seems reasonable to assume the next president will also face opposition to closing the prison. If that is not the case, it will be more clear than ever that opposition had nothing to do with security concerns and everything to do with simply opposing President Obama.