Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told The Hill on Thursday that he is working with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., to restrict the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen.
The two senators are hoping to have their amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which is expected to be brought to the Senate floor next week. It would remove provisions currently in the legislation that would ease restrictions on transfers of Yemeni detainees back to their home country.
The amendment, if ultimately approved, could be problematic for the Obama administration, which in late May announced that it was lifting a 2010 ban on transferring Yemeni detainees back to Yemen. Of the approximately 86 detainees that had been approved for transfer prior to the president’s speech, 56 are from Yemen. It would also complicate the president’s long-stated goal of closing the prison. The administration has faced a myriad of challenges—ranging from legal and political hurdles to national security concerns—on how to accomplish the task.
The House passed its version of the Defense bill over the summer, and it includes the restrictions on transfers. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he believes any Guantanamo-related amendment will need to get 60 votes to pass.
Chambliss and Ayotte have previously said they support keeping Guantanamo open.