What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Human Rights Abuses : HR 1268. Fiscal 2005 Supplemental Appropriations/Vote to Delete Funding for the Construction of a New $36 Million Maximum Security Prison at Guantanamo, Cuba.
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HR 1268. Fiscal 2005 Supplemental Appropriations/Vote to Delete Funding for the Construction of a New $36 Million Maximum Security Prison at Guantanamo, Cuba.
senate Roll Call 93     Apr 13, 2005
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

When issues such as a national emergency or a natural disaster arise which require immediate funding, Congress often drafts a supplemental appropriations bill to provide additional government funding for needs which were not foreseeable during the normal congressional appropriations process. During debate on the 2005 Supplemental Appropriations bill for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan and disaster relief assistance for victims of the December 2004 tsunami, Senator Byrd (D-WV) introduced an amendment which would have deleted a provision in the underlying spending bill which provided $36 million for the construction of a new maximum security prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Progressives supported Byrd's amendment and argued that a new Guantanamo Bay prison was not needed. According to Senator Byrd, "There is currently no overcrowding at Guantanamo, the prison population is steadily declining-down to approximately 540 from a high of about 750-and the Pentagon has already built a $16 million, permanent, state-of-the-art maximum security prison at Guantanamo to hold 100 prisoners." Progressives also voiced concerns about human rights violations at the current Guantanamo Bay facility and argued that additional construction should wait until the legal status of detained prisoners is resolved. In the words of Senator Byrd, "What struck me about this item [the new Guantanamo facility] is that the American people are being asked to build a permanent prison to house 220 prisoners from the war on terrorism when the courts have not yet determined the legal status of the detainees or whether the United States can continue to hold these individuals indefinitely without charging them with a crime...If ever there was a case of putting the cart before the horse, this seems to be it." Conservatives opposed Byrd's amendment and discussed the potential benefits of the new Guantanamo Bay facility. "I believe we must keep the $40 million to allow the [Defense] Department to move forward to make better facilities at Guantanamo Bay, facilities that are more secure, and facilities that will make operations more efficient, especially in the use of guards," said Senator Hutchison (R-TX). Senator Hutchison also remarked that "I think Guantanamo Bay is the perfect place to hold these types of detainees, many of whom are dangerous terrorists. I do not want these prisoners moved. I don't want them moved into facilities in communities in our country, on our shores, where they can pose a danger for our citizens and serve as a lightning rod for terrorist activity." On a vote of 27-71, the Byrd amendment was defeated and the $36 million in emergency funding for the construction of a new maximum security prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba remained in the underlying supplemental spending bill.

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