Congressional Dems Divided About Funding GTMO Closure

Differences appear to be developing among Congressional Dems on whether or not to fund the closing of GTMO, this after House Dems nixed a $50 million White House request to pay for the detention facility's closure in this year's emergency war spending bill.

Tonight, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Dan Inouye, D-HI, said the funding is still alive. "There's always conference," he told reporters, referring to House-Senate negotiations over the bill that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that will eventually come.

Appropriations Committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, an early and ardent supporter of closing the island prison, said though she was not aware of the House decision, "I have no doubt once the Administration decides on a plan (to close GTMO), that plan will be funded."

Only problem is, this has become a political hot potato that no Dem seems to want to touch, as Republicans on both sides of the Capitol hammer the issue daily, deriding the President's plan to close the detention center.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE, also a committee member, said he was surprised the House had left out the money. When asked about the political issue and members not wanting these prisoners in their backyard, Nelson only half jokingly said, "or two states over."

One solution could be to punt this fight to the annual appropriations bills. That money comes available later in the year, and the President's executive order says only that GTMO must be closed by Jan. 22, 2010.

One thing is clear, this issue is not going away anytime soon.