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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration could bring foreign terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay prison to the United States only to face prosecution, under a measure that cleared Congress on Tuesday.
The Senate's 79 to 19 vote removed one of the many roadblocks the government faces as it tries to empty the internationally condemned prison by January.
The measure, included in a $42.8 billion (26.1 billion pound) bill to fund the Homeland Security Department, passed the House of Representatives last week and now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Obama ordered the detention camp closed on his second day in office but administration officials have run into numerous legal, political and diplomatic hurdles.
Not least among those has been Congress, even though Obama's fellow Democrats control the House and the Senate.
Many Republicans have objected to plans to house terrorism suspects in U.S. prisons, worrying that they could invite additional terrorist attacks. Some also argued that the detainees do not deserve American legal protections and say they should be tried in military tribunals at Guantanamo.
The compromise passed by both chambers of Congress would allow the government to bring Guantanamo inmates to U.S. soil only if they are going to face trial in American courts.
The administration would have to present a risk assessment and give 45 days' notice.
Those cleared of wrongdoing without trial could not be resettled within the United States.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Doina Chiacu)