President Obama is making it clear he is willing to stay home for the holidays if Congress doesn't pass a payroll tax cut extension by the time legislators are supposed to break later this month.
"[W]e are going to stay here as long as it takes to make sure that the American people's taxes don't go up on January 1st, and to make sure that folks who desperately need unemployment insurance get that help," the president said. "And there's absolutely no excuse for us not getting it done," Obama said.
The president is tentatively slated to head to Hawaii on Dec. 17. He typically heads to the islands during the holiday break but with Congress still mulling a way to pay for the extension of the payroll tax cuts, the president and some Democrats are suggesting Congress should stay in session through Christmas if necessary to keep the cuts from expiring at the end of the year.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said House Democrats are prepared to stay in town for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's and Boxing Day if that's what it takes and Senate Democrats say the president has pushed them to stick around.
"I do not expect Congress to go home unless the payroll tax cut is extended and unless unemployment insurance is extended," the president said. "It would be wrong for families, but it would also be wrong for the economy as a whole," Pelosi said.
Some congressional Republicans have indicated they also think the tax cut should be extended but there are differences within the party about how to make up for the lost revenue. Others have suggested the president and Senate Democrats are using the holiday deadline to push their agenda. The president was adamant Wednesday in his call for Congress to act or stay in D.C.
"Get it done," he said. "And if not, maybe we'll have a white Christmas here in Washington."
Congress has narrowly escaped Christmas in Washington the last two years, making Obama have to delay his trip both times. It passed an extension of Bush era tax rates and a bill to keep government funded just before the holiday break last year and in 2009, the Senate passed the president's health care bill on Christmas Eve.