They also refused to give him any money to close the prison until he outlines his plan for detainees. That Congressional imperative will likely become law in the next two weeks, when the House and Senate finalize the supplemental conference report.
Still, Obama has general support from Democratic leaders in both chambers for closing Guantánamo, and aides said that whatever he comes up with will likely have the votes assuming he uses the bully pulpit of the White House to drive the public relations message.
At the end of the day, the president is going to present the Congress with a plan that he feels is strong enough to answer the concerns of many Members of Congress, and well have the votes to pass it, said one senior House Democratic aide.
But Obama will have to work hard to sell the plan if it involves bringing detainees into U.S. maximum security prisons, as appears likely. Republicans have hammered Democrats with warnings that such a move would endanger national security. That has made some vulnerable Democrats more nervous about supporting Obama.
In order to get Members to walk the line for him on this, hes going to have to put meat on the bones. Hes going to have to put a lot of meat on the bones, the senior Senate Democratic aide said.
The House aide agreed but said the president will likely get his way: At the end of the day, itll get done.