Wednesday, December 23, 2009

President Obama And Family To Spend Christmas In Hawaii

Washington, D.C., United States (AHN) - The Obamas will spend their first Christmas as the first family not in the White House but in Hawaii, where President Barack Obama was raised by his late grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died a day before he won the election last year.

According to the White House, the President, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha will travel to Honolulu on Thursday morning.

The President had said Tuesday after meeting with small banks about efforts to fix the economy that his vacation plans would depend on whether Senate Democrats are able to pass their healthcare bill.

"I will not leave until my friends in the Senate have completed their work," Obama told reporters at the White House. "My attitude is, is that if they're making these sacrifices to provide health care to all Americans, then the least I can do is to be around and to provide them any encouragement and last-minute help if necessary." Senate Democrats, the same day, reached an agreement with Republicans that the final vote on passage of the healthcare bill would be held at 8:00 am on Thursday. The measure is expected to pass, having cleared a filibuster by the GOP on Monday with the minimum 60 votes required.

After passage, the measure will still need to be reconciled with the bill passed by the House last month, which has a government insurance plan. The merged legislation will then undergo final approval by each chamber before being sent to the White House for Obama to sign into law.

The President also spent the holidays in Hawaii last year with his family, as the president-elect. While on vacation, he "will continue to get daily intelligence updates and security updates," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday, but will hold no public events.

"As he's wont to do, he will probably take the girls out for shaved ice; they may go do various and sundry things in and around Hawaii. But there are no public events," Gibbs said.

The White House has not said if Obama will spend New Year's in Honolulu just as he did last year. The President is set to give his first State of the Union address in January, and the tone of that speech will be contingent on whether he is successful in passing healthcare reform, his top legislative priority.

Lawmakers are to re-convene in Capitol Hill on January 5. Obama spoke before a joint session of Congress a month after he was inaugurated. In September, he spoke to both chambers again, making clear, "Let there be no doubt: healthcare reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year."

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