House Democrats strip funding for Gitmo civilian trials in retaliation for tax deal

posted at 9:30 am on December 10, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Anger among Democrats over Barack Obama’s tax deal continues to percolate unabated, and now even some of the leadership has taken it public.  Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) holds a couple of key committee assignments and chairs the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies for Appropriations, and took the most public shot at Obama in an interview yesterday.  The Appropriations committee also hit Obama where it hurt on one of his key policy goals as well:

In a striking move, the appropriations committee late Wednesday attached a provision to a $1.1 trillion resolution to keep the government funded next year that would prevent Obama from spending any funds to try terrorism suspects in civilian court instead of military commissions.

The language would essentially prevent the closing of the detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Some House Democrats viewed the move as an act of defiance and a direct demonstration of just how furious the caucus is with Obama’s decision to work with Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.

Moran claimed not to know of the provision that gives Republicans a head start on blocking the closing of Gitmo — and it’s not the only thing of which Moran disclaimed knowledge.  The Hill interviewed Moran about his take on the tax deal, prompting this profane response:

“This is a lack of leadership on the part of Obama,” fumed Moran (D-Va.) “I don’t know where the f*** Obama is on this or anything else. They’re AWOL.”

The administration had previously succeeded in keeping the House from tying its hands on Gitmo and civilian trials for foreign-captured terrorists, but apparently the anger over what progressives see as betrayal overcame their own desire to see Gitmo closed.  Either that, or it’s a slap at progressives from the moderates for pitching such a fit over what will be a fairly routine process of compromise in the next session of Congress; that seems a little more likely, although either is possible.   The action put progressive Democrats in the general caucus in a panic when they realized that it was embedded in continuing resolution and is headed for a floor vote.  Republicans were stunned at what they called a “180-degree turn” from Democrats on Gitmo.

Eric Holder called it an unacceptable encroachment on executive jurisdiction, but that’s entirely incorrect.  Congress has the power of the purse to check executive power, and in this case Congress has a point.  The legislature has on three occasions set up military commissions to deal with inmates at Gitmo, but this administration has defiantly chosen to use federal courts instead — and largely botched the effort.  If the lame duck Congress didn’t take this step, the incoming Republican House certainly would have done so.  And now they have a nice precedent on which to rely to make the case that Congress’ policy is bipartisan.

The wheels appear to be coming off of the Obama White House, thanks in large part to the political immaturity of the President — whose own reaction helped fuel this rebellion — and his progressive base.


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