Sen. Tim Scott vowed Thursday that the Republican-led Congress will “stand strong and use every weapon in our arsenal” to stop President Barack Obama from closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Scott, R-S.C., has been a leading opponent of Obama’s plan to close the facility in Cuba and has warned the president against authorizing a military prison in South Carolina as a site to house Guantanamo detainees.
“I am amazed the president of the United States would even dare think to break the law of our country and send those enemy combatants to any location in this country,” Scott said during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, outside Washington, D.C.
Last month, Obama sent Congress a plan to close Guantanamo in his latest attempt to fulfill a promise of his first campaign for president.
Obama says he believes that the prison fuels the recruitment of terrorists and anti-American sentiment and is a waste of taxpayer money.
Congress passed a measure banning the military from transferring Guantanamo detainees to the mainland, and Republicans are not likely to change course while Obama remains in office.
However, Obama could try to use executive action to close the prison by arguing that the Constitution gives the president the power to transfer the prisoners to the U.S.
“Why not just leave them in Guantanamo Bay?” Scott said. “Leave them in Guantanamo. It’s the perfect location if there ever was one.”
When Obama became president, there were 242 inmates at Guantanamo. Of the 91 prisoners still there, 46 have not been charged with a crime or been approved for transfer to other countries.
The transfer restrictions, and Congress’ resistance, highlight the challenge of Obama’s wish to close Guantanamo.
Guantanamo Bay, located at the southeastern edge of Cuba, has housed combatants taken captive in the war on terror since 2002.
Scott was among the first elected officials to address the crowd at CPAC. Running through Saturday, the conference offers conservatives across the country an opportunity to gather with fellow activists and leaders for speeches, panels, exhibits, and other activities at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside Washington, D.C., at Maryland’s National Harbor.