This vote was on a motion to kill an amendment by Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., that would have prohibited money in the fiscal 2010 military construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill from being used to construct or modify U.S. facilities to house detainees transferred from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds military construction projects such as bases, and Veterans Affairs, in fiscal 2010.
Inhofe’s amendment was, in essence, an attempt to head off a decision by President Obama to try alleged terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay in regular U.S. courts, which Republicans view as a step closer to closing down the holding facility originally established by President George W. Bush. Just days prior to this vote, the Justice Department had announced that five detainees currently being held at Guantanamo By (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks), are to be tried in New York by the normal judicial system.
Inhofe said his amendment is “the only way we can see that we can assure we are not going to have those individuals who are now at Gitmo in the United States. I think we have discussed this several times. I strongly support this amendment,” Inhofe said. “If you want terrorists here, then vote against this amendment. This may be the last shot you have at it.”
Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the amendment may make the country less secure because it prohibits the prisons that will house the detainees from being improved.
“Our communities will be less safe because money cannot be spent to make more secure the places where these detainees are being kept. It seems to me this is kind of a “cutting off your nose to spite your face” approach,” Levin said. “The decision has been made that there are going to be trials in the United States. There already have been trials in the United States. There are detainees who are awaiting trial in the United States. It would seem to me it is in everybody’s interest that the places where these detainees are being kept should be as secure as possible.”
By a vote of 57-43, the Senate voted to kill Inhofe’s amendment. All but two Democrats present voted to kill the amendment. Every Republican present voted against killing the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have prohibited using funding to construct or modify prisons in the United States to hold detainees from Guantanamo Bay.