House Republicans retain outside law firm to advise on potential Gitmo lawsuit

Story highlights

  • Republicans repeatedly argue that any action by the Obama administration to transfer prisoners violates the law
  • President Barack Obama recently signed a spending bill and a series of defense bills that blocked the ability to make any additional moves from Gitmo

Washington (CNN)House Republicans hired a prominent Washington law firm to advise Speaker Paul Ryan on potentially suing the Obama Administration over its effort to close down Guantanamo Bay and transfer detainees to the United States, according to a senior House GOP leadership aide.

House GOP leaders approved a contract to spend up to $150,000 to attorneys at the Jones Day law firm to "explore legal options should the administration move forward," the aide told CNN.
Politico first reported on the move to retain the outside firm. Former House Speaker John Boehner used outside counsel to sue the Obama Administration over Obamacare and his immigration executive orders.
    Republicans repeatedly argue that any action by the Obama administration to transfer prisoners violates the law because President Barack Obama recently signed a spending bill and a series of defense bills that blocked the ability to make any additional moves from Gitmo.
    "Congress has spoken and the President does not have the authority to import Gitmo terrorist into the United States. Because the law is clear, we do not anticipate the need for any legal action, but Speaker Ryan is prepared to forcefully defend Congress's authority if the President does attempt any illegal action," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told CNN.
    Democrats were not consulted by Republicans on the contract, and there was no vote in the bipartisan legal advisory committee that usually signs off on money for outside lawyers. The same legal team retained by the GOP argued and lost the King v. Burwell case on Obamacare at the Supreme Court.
    "Whether with the so-called Defense of Marriage Act or the Affordable Care Act, the House Republican leadership continues to hire expensive Washington lawyers to achieve the outcomes they cannot get through the legislative process. It's a stunning abuse of taxpayer funds with zero oversight," Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, told CNN.
    Signing off on a contract for outside counsel would just be the first step in formal legal action by House Republicans. Until the administration acts there is nothing to challenge and any legal action would still likely need to be approved through a congressional committee, and by a vote on the House floor. But there has been bipartisan support for blocking the Obama Administration's actions on Gitmo.