The clock is ticking for President Barack Obama to make good on one of his biggest promises — closing Guantanamo Bay.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough backed the president on Sunday in what would be an enormous moral victory for the Obama Administration.
“He feels an obligation to the next president. He will fix this so that they don't have to be confronted with the same set of challenges,” Mr McDonough said on Fox News Sunday.
The naval base opened in response to the September 11 attacks and now contains 103 men with 17 prisoners scheduled to be relocated this month. However, when Congress passed their annual spending bill in November, they made sure to restrict President Obama from relocating any Guantanamo detainees to the United States.
Mr McDonough hinted at the president's ability to bypass Congress if they reject his legislative proposals.
“The president just said he’s going to present a plan to Congress and work with Congress and then we’ll make some final determination,” he said.
In his final press conference of 2015, President Obama said he wouldn't rule out using his executive authority but he first wanted to try to come to a resolution with Congress on closing the facility.
“We will wait until Congress has definitively said no to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitively about my executive authority here,” President Obama said this past December. “I think it's far preferable if I can get stuff done with Congress.”
The president has long condemned the detention center as a major propaganda tool for terrorist organizations and as the population of the prison reaches below 100, he said he believes that Congress will be reluctant to keep the facility open as the number of detainees reaches zero.
“Now, every battle I’ve had with Congress over the last five years has been uphill,” Mr Obama told reporters. “But we keep on surprising you by actually getting some stuff done. Sometimes that may prove necessary, but we try not to get out ahead of ourselves on that.”