Obama returning to Washington

Dec. 26, 2012 at 2:12 AM
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HONOLULU, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- President Obama will break off from his Hawaiian vacation and return to Washington Wednesday evening, the White House said.

A statement issued by the White House press secretary's office Tuesday said first lady Michelle Obama and the Obamas' two daughters would remain in Honolulu.

The president was scheduled to fly out of Hawaii at 10 p.m. local time.

The New York Times reported both chambers of Congress would return from their holiday break Thursday and get back to work.

The president and Congress face the daunting task of finding a compromise to ward off the package of hundreds of billions of dollars of spending cuts and tax hikes collectively known as the "fiscal cliff" that otherwise goes into effect with the New Year.

The Obamas spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at their vacation home in Kailua.

"The president made holiday telephone calls to U.S. service members, then sat down with his family for Christmas Eve dinner," the White House said.

On Christmas morning, the first family opened their gifts about 8 a.m. and then ate breakfast and sang carols.

During the afternoon, the president and Mrs. Obama traveled to the Marine Base to visit with service members and their families.

The president greeted the diners warmly and delivered a short speech.

"We do this every year. This is where I was born and so we come back for the holidays," Obama said. "But one of our favorite things is always coming to the base on Christmas Day and having a chance just to meet you, those of you who have families here, and to say thanks for the extraordinary work and service that you guys do each and every day.

"Obviously the greatest honor I have as president is being commander in chief. And the reason it's an honor is because not only do we have the finest military in the world, but we also have the finest fighting men and women in the world. And so many of you make sacrifices day in and day out on behalf of our freedom, on behalf of our security.

"And not only do those in uniform make sacrifices, but I think everybody here understands the sacrifices that families make each and every day as well.

"Obviously we're still in a wartime footing. There's still folks as we speak who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day. Some of you may have loved ones who are deployed there. Some of you may be about to be deployed there. And so we know that it's not easy.

"But what we'd also like you to know is that you have an entire country behind you, that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary services you guys provide. And so we want to say thank you. We love you."

The Obamas were to dine with friends Tuesday evening at their home.

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