With House and Senate lawmakers intent on finishing up the appropriations process before Sept. 30, President Barack Obama faces a tough timeline this summer for getting the money he wants to close the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, military prison. Democrats on both sides of the Capitol say that at the very least they want to pass all 12 appropriations measures — including the Defense Department spending bill that would contain any Guantánamo closure money — by the end of the fiscal year. However, Obama has been waiting for a report from a special interdepartmental task force on how to deal with the hundreds of suspected terrorists now housed at the facility. That report is not due until July 21 and could come too late for House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), who has set a goal of having all his spending bills passed by the House before it recesses on July 31.
“There’s a train leaving town, which is Defense appropriations, and if [Obama] wants the funding on that train, he needs to one, come up with a plan, and two, convince a majority of Congress to support that plan,” said one senior Senate Democratic aide.
So perhaps this whole ill-fated scheme fades away and disappears in the dog days of summer when healthcare and Sotomayor’s nomination will transfix the Capitol. And then what of the president’s one-year deadline? Will he meet it or let it slide — or is that just another “false choice”? For now it seems that the president has failed in his signature piece of grandstanding, which is what usually comes of half-baked national security ideas that come straight out of the MoveOn.org playbook.