White House Correspondent
Pledging that President Obama will stay in Washington until the business of this year's lame-duck session of Congress is complete, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that the first family might postpone its Christmas trip to Hawaii for at least a few days.
The Obamas are scheduled to depart from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Saturday, Dec. 18, but the White House has made clear in recent days that the president is committed to seeing through (and signing off on) certain key pieces of legislation -- including the tax cuts package
he negotiated with GOP leadership and the ratification of the New START arms treaty
with Russia -- before leaving town for the holiday.
Asked if this meant that the president would stay in Washington until Christmas Eve -- or beyond -- Gibbs responded, "If that's what it takes."
Congress is expected to recess at the end of this week, though it remains unclear whether lawmakers will be able to tackle all pending legislation in that time frame, including the repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy
and the DREAM Act
, which offers a path to citizenship for children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.
Said Gibbs to the White House press corps: "I think you've got a few extra days to pull together those Christmas presents that you put off buying. I think obviously there's a decent amount still left that getting out of here Friday or Saturday is probably not the day I'd pick in the [press] pool."
Pressed further as to whether president would stay in town "right up till New Year's Eve -- if that's what it takes," Gibbs offered, "I think the president is hopeful to spend a little time with family and friends in Hawaii, but if Congress is here, the president will be here."