House defense lawmakers are banning the Pentagon from accepting any new detainees to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and denying the White House’s $88 million request to build a new detainee prison at the naval base.
Along with blocking the Trump administration of admitting new terror detainees captured during the war against the Islamic State, House Armed Services Committee members are also looking to allow current detainees — some of whom have been in U.S. custody since 2002 — to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, according to the committee’s draft of the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2020 budget plan.
“The operation of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has, for years, been exceedingly costly and mired in controversy,” with the new legislative proposals designed to curb and ultimately end its operations, committee members said in a statement accompanying the bill proposal, released late Sunday night.
The House version sets aside $724 billion for Pentagon coffers in the coming fiscal year. It sets a baseline budget of $655.9 billion for the Defense Department, along with an additional $69 billion to finance ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere as part of the “Overseas Contingency Operations” or wartime funding accounts.
Submitted by Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat and committee chairman, the House committee budget draft is $6 billion more than the White House’s total $718 billion budget request for defense and national security for the coming fiscal year, sent to Capitol Hill in February.
With the Islamic State’s defeat in the Middle East, U.S. and coalition officials have continually wrestled with options on what to do with the group’s fighters captured on the battlefield.
Early in his inaugural term in office, Mr. Trump pledged to fill the military prison in Cuba with “bad dudes,” a policy stance which ran counter to President Barack Obama’s push to permanently shutter the facility. Thus far, the Defense Department has pursued the option of repatriation for those captured fighters versus reopening the Guantanamo Bay facility to new detainees.
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