Paul Ryan said it “boggles” his mind that President Obama would direct military officials to transfer GITMO prisoners to US prisons in an effort to close the detention center despite it being illegal. He said lawmakers are preparing to take legal action against the president if it comes down to that.
“We are making legal preparations if the president tries to break the law,” Paul Ryan said.
“Our law is really clear,” Ryan added, highlighting that it was Democrats who first wrote the legislation barring the transfer of prisoners to US soil.
The provisions barring such a transfer has been codified annually in the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill, as Ryan pointed out, has had strong bipartisan support in the House.
Ryan indicated that it was sign that there is enough support in Congress to override any veto by the president to force Congress to close the detention center.
However, the last time the bill was debated and voted on, it was 30 votes shy of the two-thirds needed to override a veto. So it is likely an overstatement to say the House could muster enough support to keep the detention center open.
But Ryan’s threat to pass legislation that would keep GITMO open is not as serious as the threat to take legal actions against the president.
A senior Republican legislative aide, who wished not be named, said the House has “entered into a contract for advice concerning legal options should the president unlawfully transfer GITMO detainees in an amount up to 150k.”
Although a 150k legal contract is not enough to sue the president, it is enough to start building a legal argument against the president and make a public relations case.
Republican lawmakers in the House have already proven they’re willingness to sue the president. They have taken legal action against the president selective implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act, his executive action on immigration, and the administration’s lack of cooperation with subpoenas related to the “Fast and Furious” investigation.
Those legal challenges are far more complicated, however, than the one that would thrown at the president if he decides to transfer prisoners to US soil. The law is pretty clear: the president can’t transfer detainees. In fact, under the current law the military can’t even spend a dime to prepare other detention centers to receive any prisoners who might be transferred if the president makes a move.