Democrats once again revive effort to shutter Guantanamo Bay

Republicans cast an immediate shadow of doubt on their colleagues' ability to get the longtime wishlist item done list.

Updated: July 5, 2022 - 10:28am

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Democrats in Congress are once again reviving their effort to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, though the effort will face the usual Senate battle. 

Democratic lawmakers have moved legislation to shutter the facility in Cuba forward in recent months as part of the annual Defense spending bill, which is expected to be voted upon in the coming weeks.

The move will likely face a mountain of opposition from Senate Republicans, who largely oppose the effort.

Retiring Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R) told The Hill, "I’m sure it’s not going to happen. No rational person’s going to support that. It’s an absolutely vital institution."

Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R) concurred that it is unlikely Democrats will secure the votes needed to shut down Gitmo. "They have such slim majorities right now. It’s difficult for them to do anything ... So, getting something that controversial done is just, as a practical matter, not going to happen."

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) We should’ve closed it years ago said, “We should’ve closed it years ago," adding that he agrees with both President Biden and former President Barack Obama. "I would vote for anything to close Guantanamo Bay. You have to have the votes, and we’ve tried before and they haven’t been able to get it." he said.

Republican Kay Granger (Tex.) voiced concern about the population kept at the facility being moved to the U.S. 

"These detainees are the worst of the worst, and we need assurance that they will never be moved to the United States" said the leading Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

According to data from the American Civil Liberties Union, close to 800 people have been detained at the maximum security prison since it was opened in 2002, following the 9/11 attacks. Currently, there are fewer than 40 prisoners still being held at the facility, and the Biden administration continues to work to reduce the number of detainees held there.

"The Biden administration remains dedicated to a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo facility," a spokesperson for the National Security Committee said.