Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03) has introduced legislation giving the House of Representatives the authority to file a lawsuit against the Obama Administration should they violate or attempt to violate the law regarding the transfer of detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The legislation is in response to the President’s signing statement to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016 as well as today’s Department of Defense outline for closing the facility.
The language of the NDAA states that the President must notify the appropriate committees at least 30 days prior to the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and entirely prohibits the transfer of detainees to the United States. A 2014 GAO report found that when transferring detainees from Cuba to Qatar for the exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Obama Administration failed to notify Congress within the appropriate amount of time, thereby violating the law that the President himself signed.
Following introduction to the House, Congressman Duncan said: “The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016 passed both the House and Senate with a veto-proof, bipartisan majority. In a direct attack to the rule of law, the President said in his signing statement that his Administration may ignore the restrictions on the transfer of detainees. The language in the bill specifically states that the President must notify the appropriate committees at least 30 days prior to the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, while clearly prohibiting any transfer to the United States. Furthermore, the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees into the United States is completely prohibited under the law. It is plain and simple language, yet the President continues to suggest that he will move forward anyway.
No President is above the law. When Congress passes a law, we have an obligation to the Constitution to ensure that it is followed. It’s time to be proactive instead of reactive, which is why I introduced legislation allowing for the Speaker of the House to initiate litigation against any executive branch officials should they violate the law by transferring dangerous detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Senator Tim Scott has been the leader in the Senate on this issue, raising awareness and fighting the Administration at every opportunity. These terrorists should not be transferred to South Carolina or any other state, and the laws regarding releasing these detainees abroad must be respected. It is important for Congress to legally prepare to respond to any possible violation of the law, which is what this legislation would accomplish.”
Speaking in support of the legislation, Senator Tim Scott said: “It is clear that the President’s plan to move Guantanamo to domestic soil would break the law. I want to thank Jeff for his efforts to ensure that Congress is using every tool at our disposal to prevent this reckless plan from moving forward.”