The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation to prohibit moving terrorism suspects from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil, a blow to President Barack Obama's efforts to prosecute them in criminal courts.
The proposed legislation prevents moving such prisoners to the United States under any circumstances by prohibiting the administration from spending any money to do so.
In the past, the government was allowed to bring detainees, including the self-professed mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to the United States to face trial.
The provision was tucked in must-pass legislation that would fund the U.S. government's operations through the end of the 2011 fiscal year, September 30, 2011. That legislation now goes to the Senate for approval.
The Obama administration condemned the tighter restriction on moving the detainees and argued that Congress should not direct how the administration prosecutes such cases.
"We strongly oppose this provision. Congress should not limit the tools available to the executive branch in bringing terrorists to justice and advancing our national security interests," said Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
The inclusion of the provision in the bill was unusual because Democrats still control the House through the end of the year and previously they had approved allowing detainees to be brought into the country for prosecution.
The spending ban makes it impossible for President Barack Obama to follow through on his campaign pledge to close the prison at least through September, when the spending bill expires. (Continues here)