Policy: National Security

Senate votes against new restrictions on transfer of Gitmo detainees

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The Senate on Tuesday voted not to impose additional restrictions on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, a positive sign for those who want to close the controversial prison facility, including President Obama.

In a 55-43 vote, the Senate rejected legislation introduced by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., to limit the transfer of detainees to countries that pose a security risk. It also proposed a prohibition on the transfer of detainees to the United States, for medical treatment or trial.

Lawmakers also rejected a proposal from Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., that would have given the Pentagon 60 days to prepare a plan to close the detention facility before any tax dollars could be spent upgrading American prisons to hold Gitmo detainees.

Both proposals required 60 votes to pass.

The votes were part of the debate over the Pentagon's annual policy legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act, which has already passed the House.

The House version of the bill prohibits detainee transfer to the United States, something that is still allowed under the Senate version of the bill.

The differences between the House and Senate bills will be worked out in a conference committee, which Ayotte and her backers believe will produce a comprise that includes strong restrictions on detainee transfers.

"The House has really strong provisions," Ayotte said after the vote. "I think that the House will hold their ground."

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