21 Conservative Democrats Vote With The GOP Against Closing The Guantánamo Gulag
Wednesday night the House passed the 2017 Defense Authorization Act 277-147, most Democrats voting against it, although most of the Blue Dogs and New Dems voted with the GOP for passage, despite a paragraph that got added in the dead of night by Oklahoma City wing-nut Steve Russell that allows federal contractors to fire employees for being gay. That was just one of the reasons most Democrats objected to the bill.
Earlier Jerry Nadler had offered an amendment that most Democrats did like-- to remove funding prohibitions on the closure of the Guantánamo gulag-- but that failed 163-259. 3 libertarian-leaning Republicans-- Justin Amash (MI), Jimmy Duncan (TN) and Mark Sanford (SC)-- crossed the aisle and voted with the Democrats. Sanford said he favored shutting it down because he opposes the government holding people indefinitely. "Indefinite detention," he said, "is not consistent with the values that America was based on. I think if you look at the military tribunals... there was finality to the process: 'We find you guilty in military tribunal, we’ll take you out back and shoot you, or we’ll let you go.' It was not, 'We’re going to hold you for the next 40 years.'"
Eric Kingson, the progressive running for a Syracuse-based seat held by GOP back-bencher John Katko told us right after the vote that "It's long past time to close Guantánamo. The prison is against American values, is unnecessary, and truly does not make us any safer. Terrorist groups effectively use Guantanamo as a recruitment tool, adding to their strength. Like on so many issues, Rep. Katko just does not get it, and I believe the people of Central New York will agree come November."
Paul Clements, running for the seat in southwest Michigan held by Republican obstructionist Fred Upton, sees Guantánamo much the way Kingson does. He told us this morning that "Congressman Upton has once again done his part to ensure that one of the last hateful reminders of the Bush/Cheney era will survive until a new presidency. He may take the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments of the Constitution lightly, as well as the Geneva Convention and numerous other treaties, but I will do my part to ensure that this country lives by its best ideals and operates rightfully as a protector of international law. I will vote to close Guantánamo Bay." These were the 21 Democrats who crossed the aisle to voted with the Republicans and against President Obama on Guantánamo, much of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party:
• Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA)Although some represent swing districts and feel electorally vulnerable, others, like Donald Norcross, Dan Lipinski and Dutch Ruppersberger in in safe blue districts and are expressing their inherently conservative nature.
• Ben Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
• Corrine Brown (FL)
• Julia Brownley (CA)
• Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
• Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)
• Al Green (TX)
• Gene Green (TX)
• Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ)
• Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
• Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
• Donald Norcross (NJ)
• Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
• Raul Ruiz (CA)
• Dutch Ruppersberger (MD)
• Loretta Sanchez (Blue Dog-CA)
• David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)
• Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
• Filemon Vela (New Dem-TX)
We spoke with three progressive Democrats running in November who are military veterans and have GOP opponents they're focused on, opponents who oppose closing Guantánamo. Lou Vince, a former marine and LAPD officer, is up against right-wing extremist Steve Knight in the Santa Clarita area north of L.A. "Guantánamo needs to closed," he told us this morning, "there is no question about it. The very existence of this site causes negative opinions of America around the world, and places American lives in danger. Unlike Congressman Knight, I would vote to remove these funding prohibitions and help close this prison once and for all. This prison has been open for way too long and it's time to close this un-American institution."
Tom Wakely in running in a central Texas district that includes part of Austin and part of San Antonio and is currently represented by out-of-touch career politician Lamar Smith. "House Republicans like Lamar Smith," he said, "want the borders closed and our prisons open. Despite Guantánamo representing a culture of torture, they would rather our nation beat its chest than do what is humane."
And Long Island's DuWayne Gregory, who comes from a military family and served as an Army officer, is currently the Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, is running for the South Shore seat held by scatterbrained Trump supporter, Peter King. This morning DuWayne came right to the point: "To continue to detain people in a manner that shreds the principles and values of our country puts our service members in more jeopardy and our national security in more risk."
All of these progressive candidates are on one or both of the ActBlue pages connected to these two thermometers. If you agree that Guantánamo should be shut down, please consider helping them replace the Republicans who want to keep it up and running by contributing to their campaigns.