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US Congress passes bill complicating Obama's plans to close Guantanamo

A bill that extends the ban on transferring Guantanamo prisonors to the US mainland has sailed through Congress. Its passage will complicate President Barack Obama's efforts to close the notorious prison.

The US Senate on Tuesday passed the bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with a vote of 91-3, a week after the House of Representatives also overwhelmingly passed the measure. In addition to authorizing more than $600 billion (560 billion euros) in military spending, the bill also contains a measure that extends the ban on transferring Guantanamo detainees to the US mainland.

The passage of the bill comes as Obama seeks to shut down the controversial Cuba-based prison, which currently holds 112 prisoners from the "War on Terror." The administration has been planning to send more than half the detainess to the US, an action strongly opposed by many Republicans.

Ongoing battle

The president

vetoed an earlier version of the NDAA

because of its language regarding Guantanamo. However, the latest bill has the support of a more than two-thirds majority in Congress, meaning lawmakers could easily override a presidential veto.

The Obama Administration is expected to submit its plan to close Guantanamo sometime this week. The president has said he wants to close the military prison before he leaves office in 2017.

Some of the administration's proposed facilities for sending prisoners are Colorado, Kansas and South Carolina.

blc/kms (Reuters, AFP)

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