"The president will veto it."
Those words aren't spoken very often in just that way from the podium in the White House briefing room, but they were today by Press Secretary Josh Earnest. This time, the message seems to be that the president really, finally does mean business when it comes to closing the prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. Earnest, who also said the administration is close to having a plan to close the prison ready to send to Congress, said the president strongly opposes any language inhibiting his ability to do so.
"The president and his advisers have concluded, that if it's included in the NDAA, the president will veto it," Earnest said.
Obama 'Will Veto' Defense Bill Over Guantanamo
Obama has threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act year after year over language that effectively prevents him from closing the prison. And every year he's signed it.
But this year could be different, especially if Congress can get a bill to Obama quickly. That could give Congress time to either override a veto or pass another bill that can get the president's signature. Senators in both parties have repeatedly questioned whether Obama would actually carry out his threat given how important the bill is to the Department of Defense and a host of the president's priorities.
Obama also has cited his own failure to close the prison on his first day in office as his big regret earlier this year, and he's running short on runway to do so before leaving office.
Cory Fritz, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested the provisions are popular in a statement reacting to Earnest's remarks.
“The American people – and bipartisan majorities of Congress – have long opposed closing Guantanamo Bay and bringing dangerous terrorists to U.S. soil. Given the serious threats America faces, it’s incredible to see this administration threatening to veto a bill that gives our troops a pay raise, strengthens our cybersecurity and imposes greater restrictions on releasing terrorists.”