WASHINGTON - House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R., Ohio) warned yesterday that he would not back emergency funding for President Obama's Afghanistan troop surge if the White House request includes money to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the United States.
"I am not going to support a bill that . . . facilitates bringing Gitmo prisoners to the United States," he said at a news conference.
The White House said Tuesday that it planned to move some terrorism detainees at the base in Cuba to an Illinois maximum-security prison.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment late yesterday. But there was no indication whether the administration would join together its requests for funding 30,000 to 35,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan and moving Guantanamo detainees to Illinois.
Boehner's warning came a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) spoke out about funding for Obama's Afghanistan plan, his most important foreign-policy initiative and one expected to elicit a White House request for $30 billion to $40 billion.
Pelosi said she would not personally lobby war-weary House Democrats to support a funding measure for the Afghan surge because she promised her caucus that the previous supplemental war-appropriations bill would be the last. Obama, she said, must make his own case.
Pelosi's stance was a political flesh wound, but Boehner's position, if adopted by House Republicans and if Obama included funding for the Guantanamo transfer with funding for the Afghan surge, could prove a deeper cut for the White House and its Afghan strategy.
Should Obama not win over antiwar Democrats, he would need a solid bloc of the House's 177 Republicans and a sliver of conservative Democrats to obtain House passage of a war supplemental package.
Lawmakers expect the White House request to pay for the Afghan surge to be made early next year. When war funding was voted on in May, 51 Democrats opposed the bill, but it passed largely because 168 Republicans supported it.
Obama drew high marks from many Republicans for his decision to deploy more troops to Afghanistan, though they raised concerns about his intention to begin withdrawing troops in July 2011.
Several Republicans were also highly critical of Obama's intention to empty the Guantanamo prison and prosecute some terror suspects in U.S. civilian courts. They became more annoyed upon learning of the Illinois plan.