Politics

Key Senate Committee Rejects Obama Request for Alternate Gitmo Prison

A key Senate committee has dealt another setback to the Obama Administration's efforts to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-MI, told reporters Friday, "The money for a prison in Illinois was struck...a prison available to house detainees from Gitmo. That was a voice vote. A clear majority voted 'AYE.' I and a few others voted against striking those funds."

The White House announced Dec. 15 that it intended to transfer Gitmo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in rural, northwestern Illinois and needed $245 million to do so.

The rebuff comes on the heels of a similar move last week in the House to reject the federal funds request, as well, but White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested, then, that the issue was not dead yet, "We have always maintained that we need increased prison facility (sic), and I think the law prevents the Department of Defense from -- but not the Department of Justice -- from purchasing such a facility."

The House Armed Services Committee also requested a report from the Administration on ideas as to how a facility might be structured. Gibbs said, "That report and details will be going up to Congress," though he did not say when.

The Senate panel met behind closed doors Thursday to hammer out a major defense spending blueprint called the Defense Authorization bill, a popular piece of legislation that Levin hopes to have on the Senate floor before the July Fourth recess.