Bobby Schilling, an incoming Tea Party-backed member of Congress from Illinois, is backing opposition to a just-passed defense authorization bill, warning it could allow suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into the United States for trial.
“I urge you to remove this language from the bill,” says Schilling in a letter to Rep. Ike Skelton, Democratic Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
In sending the letter, Schilling is siding with newly-elected Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois but breaking with Republican leadership in the House. Rep. Buck McKeon, California Republican, led the House GOP in supporting the language in the bill, which passed the House Friday.
Schilling’s voice on the issue is important because he is the only newly-elected Republican who will be serving on the Armed Services Committee. It also shows a Tea Party-backed Republican taking a harder line than GOP leadership on the matter.
At issue is language that establishes a framework by which suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay could be sent to the U.S. for trial. Schilling is concerned the provision might crack open the door for the Obama administration to later begin using the framework, an aide said.
The issue is politically sensitive in Illinois because suspected terrorists brought into the country would likely be housed in prisons in that state.
“I will fight any attempt to house terrorists on American soil,” Schilling says in his letter to Skelton.
Update: In an interview, Schilling said changes made to the legislation shortly before passage have mitigated his concerns.