Washington: Facing a looming fiscal cliff deadline, US President Barack Obama is cutting short his Hawaiian holiday to leave for Washington on Thursday.
Obama was in Hawaii to celebrate Christmas with his family and friends. The First Lady and the rest of his family would stay in Hawaii for the rest part of the year.
"Tomorrow evening, the President will depart Hawaii en route Washington, DC. The First Lady and First Daughters will remain in Hawaii," the White House said.
Obama`s return to Washington this week was not unexpected as he had told reporters last week about it.
"Because we didn`t get this done, I will see you next week," he told White House reporters last Friday before leaving for Hawaii.
"I would ask every member of Congress while they`re back home to think about that. Think about the obligations we have to the people who sent us here. Think about the hardship that so many Americans will endure if Congress does nothing at all," Obama said in his remarks urging lawmakers to arrive on a consensus on the fiscal cliff.
"We face a deadline. In 10 days, under current law, tax rates are scheduled to rise on most Americans. And even though Democrats and Republicans are arguing about whether those rates should go up for the wealthiest individuals, all of us-- every single one of us -- agrees that tax rates shouldn`t go up for the other 98 per cent of Americans, which includes 97 per cent of small businesses.
"Every member of Congress believes that. Every Democrat, every Republican. So there is absolutely no reason to protect these Americans from a tax hike. At the very least, let`s agree right now on what we already agree on. Let`s get that done," Obama had said.
According to White House, Obama last night made holiday telephone calls to US service members, then sat down with his family for Christmas Eve dinner.
In the morning, the family gathered to open their Christmas gifts. They then ate breakfast and sang carols. In the afternoon, Obama and the First Lady traveled to the Marine Base to visit with service members and their families.
"Obviously, the greatest honor I have as President is being Commander-in-Chief. And the reason it`s an honour 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, day out on behalf of our freedom, on behalf of our security," he said in his remarks to service members.
"We are still in a wartime footing. There are still folks, as we speak, who are overseas, especially in Afghanistan, risking their lives each and every day... You have the entire country behind you, and that all of us understand that we would be nowhere without the extraordinary service that you guys provide," he said.