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Va. Dems Kaine, Moran tour Guantanamo prison

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As lawmakers on Capitol Hill battle over whether to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a four-member delegation from Virginia is traveling there Friday.

Rep. Jim Moran, a longtime advocate for the facility’s closure, is visiting the facility with fellow Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly and Republican Rep. Frank Wolf. Mr. Wolf has long advocated to keep the facility open, but verbally agreed to travel with Mr. Moran during the House Appropriation Committee’s markup of the Commerce, Justice and Science spending bill earlier this month, The Hill reported.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, is also on the trip.

Senate Democrats held a hearing on closing the detention center this week, but it was their first since 2009 and revealed little agreement between Mr. Obama’s party and conservatives. In the House, lawmakers once again shot down a measure that would clear the way for transferring prisoners off the island.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, noted Thursday his committee inserted a series of Guantanamo reforms into a defense-spending bill that will come to the Senate floor.

The provisions would make it easier to transfer detainees to U.S. detention centers, or to foreign nations if they are deemed unlikely to re-engage in terrorist activity. It also provides for the temporary transfer of detainees to Defense Department medical facilities ” to prevent death or significant imminent harm.”

But lawmakers in the Republican-led House on Tuesday, on a 247-175 vote, defeated an amendment from Mr. Moran that would have permitted the release or transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. or foreign nations if the secretary of defense signed off on certain conditions.

In a policy statement, the White House condemned a section of the House defense spending bill that would prohibit the modification or creation of a facility in the United States to house the detainees — a provision that Mr. Moran had tried to strip from the bill.

“The U.S. should not stand for indefinite detention,” Mr. Moran said Thursday. “It’s un-American and against our founding principle of justice.”

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