White House pledges 'audacious' executive action in 2016

Michael Bonfigli of the Christian Science Monitor.

President Obama will roll out a bold set of executive actions during his final year in office, his top adviser said Wednesday.

“We’ll do audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year, I am confident of that,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis McDonoughBenghazi Report and Hillary: What it means for Philadelphia White House bans Cabinet members from speaking at convention Overnight Defense: Benghazi report fallout | Nearly 50 dead after Istanbul attack MORE told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. 

The comments are a clear sign the president will continue his go-it-alone approach, which has angered Republicans in Congress.

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They also underscore how, aside from a handful of proposals such as trade and criminal justice reform, there is little chance for Obama to work with Congress in an election year. 

Obama did not mention any possible executive actions during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, and McDonough did not hint on which areas the president will sidestep Congress and set policy on his own.

Last week, the president issued new unilateral actions designed to expand background checks for gun purchases. 

White House officials have warned the president could act on his own to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay if Congress doesn’t approve a plan to do so. Such a move would surely trigger a showdown with lawmakers, who have passed laws barring detainees from being housed on U.S. soil. 

McDonough said the White House is crafting its executive actions carefully to “make sure the steps we have taken are ones we can lock down and not be subjected to undoing through [Congress] or otherwise.”  

Obama’s core 2014 policies on immigration, which would allow millions of undocumented immigrants to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, have been delayed by a court challenge brought by 26 mostly Republican-run states.

At the same time, the White House is signaling the president won’t be afraid to take risks to check off pieces of unfinished business with just 12 months left in office.

Obama recently told his staff he’s going to demand that everything they do in 2016 be “infused with the sense of possibility that has both undergirded this administration, but also this country,” the chief of staff said. 

The president also said, “I am going to be asking myself, ’why not?’ ” according to McDonough.