WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday to counter President Barack Obama’s bid to close the Guantanamo detention center, underscoring the difficulty he faces keeping a promise to close it before leaving office next year.
Republican Representative Ed Royce, the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a measure that would force the Obama administration to publicize plans for transfers from Guantanamo.
Currently, the administration must inform Congress of plans for any transfers, but those notices are classified. Public notice of plans to move detainees would allow opponents more time to marshal opposition and potentially stop any transfers.
“This legislation will bring much needed public scrutiny to the administration’s mad rush to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo Bay before President Obama leaves office,” Royce said in a statement.
Four other Republicans, Senators Richard Burr, Kelly Ayotte, Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, a 2016 presidential hopeful, introduced a bill late on Monday that would bar Obama from returning the naval base at Guantanamo to Cuba without authorization from Congress.
A similar bill was introduced in the House by Republican Representative David Jolly.
“It’s clear that the threats to the United States are increasing, not decreasing, and we need every available military asset. As President Obama continues to court the Castro regime, I believe it is important that Congress makes clear that he cannot give up our base in such a strategic location,” said Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“President Obama’s aggressive push to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is dangerous,” Burr said.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Richard Chang and Chris Reese