Senate Republicans are offering the president a path in the annual defense policy bill to make good on a campaign promise and close Guantanamo Bay before leaving office.
The Senate Armed Services Committee passed the $612 billion bill with a bipartisan 22-4 vote on Thursday. Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and chairman of the committee, said the bill includes reforms of acquisition, retirement and personnel issues as well as a proposal to close the military prison in Cuba.
The bill would require the administration to provide Congress a comprehensive plan on how to close Guantanamo Bay that would need to be approved by both chambers of Congress. Once approved, Congress would give the administration whatever authority it needed to execute the plan.
“I’ve also been in favor of closing Guantanamo because of the image that Guantanamo has in the world, whether it’s deserved or not,” Mr. McCain said.
When asked if the provision could survive negotiations with the House, Mr. McCain said lawmakers understood the cost of keeping the prison open. It costs about $3.5 million per prisoner each year to detain them at Guantanamo Bay. A maximum security prison in the United States, however, would only cost about $70,000, Mr. McCain said.
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