Congressional ‘No’ for ‘Gitmo North’

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From TIME’s Pentagon Correspondent Mark Thompson:

It seems BP’s oil well isn’t the only extended political headache for President Obama oozing in the gulf. Just before fleeing town for this week’s Memorial Day recess, the House voted against setting up a prison for Guantanamo detainees in the U.S.

The Obama Administration is seeking to move the 181 detainees still at Gitmo to a state prison in Thomson, Illinois. That would clear the way to shut the Cuban detainee center, a key Obama pledge. But the House voted 282-131 on Friday against using funds in the 2011 Pentagon budget for that purpose. Rep. Don Manzullo, the Republican who represents the northwest district where the prison is located, said the vote “basically scuttles the president’s plan to move the terrorists to northwest Illinois.”

The Senate is likely to follow suit, given that its armed services committee took the same position in a voice vote behind closed doors last week. The panel’s action “basically make it more difficult to close Guantanamo,” said chairman Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who says he voted against the move.

But the Obama Administration is undeterred. Even though it has failed to keep its promise to shut down Gitmo within a year of taking office, the bar on Pentagon spending won’t deter it from pushing onward. “I think the law prevents the Department of Defense from, but not the Department of Justice from, purchasing such a facility,” notes White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.