‘Top Line’ — GOP Pressing Democrats on Gitmo

By Caitlin Taylor

May 18, 2009 2:40pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Senate Republicans are set to put President Obama and his Democratic allies in a tough spot this week over the future of Guantanamo Bay. They plan to force votes on whether to fund efforts to close the prison there, and whether inmates there should be transferred to the United States. On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. — fresh off a trip with a few GOP colleagues to Guantanamo — predicted that Republican efforts to block funding for the closing of Gitmo will succeed. “I bet we have the [votes] to strip out anything from that budget, from that supplemental budget that would be used to close down Guantanamo Bay or to move prisons — to move these individuals onto the soil of the United States,” Barrasso said. Republicans are seeking to take advantage of a split between Obama and some elements inside his own party. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Sunday that he opposes the president’s efforts to close Guantanamo, without an alternate plan in place that would keep detainees off of US soil.  Republicans are making this into a national-security argument. The president, they argue, is putting politics ahead of sound policy by pursuing the closing of Guantanamo without making alternative plans for all of the prisoners there. “If the president says we’re gonna close it down, I’m saying, well not until you come up with a plan. Where are they gonna go? And to me that should not be in the United States,” Barrasso told us. “I would say, don’t close it down. Continue it, keep it open. It is a very safe and secure area.  Continue with the hearings,” he said. “They have set up a world-class legal complex and there were two of the senators [on the trip] who have law degrees, they said they’ve never seen anything like that in the world.” “That is really the perfectly designed location, and we’ve had that area in the United States for over 100 years at Guantanamo Bay, as a base for our operations,” he said. On another matter, Barrasso indicated that — while he’s not ruling out a filibuster of the president’s Supreme Court nominee — his inclination is to have an “up-or-down vote” on the nominee. “This is the first time I’ve been through this process and I’ll see how the process proceeds. But my effort is to have an up-or-down vote on who the president nominates, and make a decision based on that person and their background, their history, their writings and the sort of things that I think are important in a justice,” Barrasso said. Watch our full interview with Sen. Barrasso HERE. Also today, we talked with Jay Newton-Small, of Time magazine, about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s current predicament, and about President Obama’s latest commencement address. Click HERE to see our chat with Jay Newton-Small.

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