On the heels of Cuban President Raul Castro's push for the U.S. to relinquish the military base in Cuba that's been in American hands for well over a century, Congressman David Jolly (R-Indian Shores) has filed the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Protection Act.
If enacted, it would bar the president "from modifying, terminating, abandoning, or transferring the lease for the naval base with the government of Cuba without Congressional approval." Last week, Cuban President Raul Castro asserted that handing the base over to Cuba would be key in normalizing relations with the country, as would lifting the embargo and somehow "compensating" the country for economic losses it suffered as a result of the embargo.
Jolly said he hopes the bill will prevent the use of Guantanamo Bay as a "bargaining chip" in President Obama's ongoing quest to "normalize" relations with Cuba.
“This is a matter that may seem incidental to the current conversation regarding our relations with Cuba, but it is of paramount importance to our national security,” Jolly said in a written statement. “What is lost in the Cuba debate is our national security and intelligence interest 90 miles from the US coastline. There is little justification to hand over our naval asset and unilaterally disarm. This is merely common sense.”
Now, here's what's neat:
The White House has already said giving the base back to Cuba isn't on the table.
So the big news here is really the fact that at least one Congressional Republican agrees with the president on something.
That said, not everyone agrees that the U.S. should have a military presence in the country, but that's to be expected.
And just to be clear, we're talking about the Guantanamo Bay military base, at large, not the prison where people accused of terrorism are being held indefinitely. President Obama signed an executive order to shut the prison down shortly after his 2009 inauguration, but hasn't done anything on it since.