Defense bill sails through Senate despite Guantanamo language

Opinion Journal: Closing Guantanamo Bay?
Opinion Journal: Closing Guantanamo Bay?

WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) -- The U.S. Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a sweeping defense policy bill that contains provisions that could make it more difficult for President Barack Obama to close the controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The vote was 91-3 in favor of the measure, which authorizes more than $600 billion in defense spending and includes $5 billion in cuts not in an earlier version of the bill.

Congressional aides said they expect Obama will sign the revised bill, even with the Guantanamo restrictions, even though he vetoed the previous version.

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The White House has not made his intentions clear.

Obama, who has vowed to close the prison before leaving office in 2017, said the Guantanamo language was one reason he vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, known as the NDAA, last month.

Obama is expected to submit his plan to close the facility this week, but any plan would face stiff resistance in Congress, where Republicans hold majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

The House passed the NDAA last week by 370-58. That margin, like the vote in the Senate, far exceeds the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

Together with extending a ban on transferring any Guantanamo detainees to the United States, the bill also imposes new restrictions on transfers to third countries, including Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

See photos of Guantanamo Bay:

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