House blocks Guantanamo detainee transfers to Yemen

June 14, 2013 at 3:52 PM

WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday to restrict transfer of detainees to Yemen, a move designed to stall the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

In a vote of 236-188, the House voted to pass an amendment to the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill from Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., prohibiting use of federal funds to transfer detainees to Yemen, significant because 56 of the 86 detainees cleared for release are from Yemen, the Washington newspaper The Hill reported Friday.

President Barack Obama said last month he would lift a restriction on transferring detainees to Yemen to jump start the transfer of cleared detainees, but Walorski warned Yemen has been a hotbed of terrorist activity and home to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

"We cannot warehouse these people forever," said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., in opposition to the measure. "We need to give the president options, not restrict him."

The defense bill includes restrictions on moving detainees to U.S. soil, making it all but impossible for the president to close the prison in Cuba, although he does have the power to transfer a detainee with a country to which to return, the newspaper noted.

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