President Obama is on his way to a delayed Hawaiian vacation with his family now that the showdown over extending the payroll tax cut has been settled. He called it "some good news just in the nick of time for the holidays."
Before leaving the White House the president signed the bill extending the payroll tax cut for two months. It will affect 160 million American workers. Mr. Obama acted Friday after the House and Senate approved the 2 percent tax cut extension. The legislation also extends unemployment insurance for jobless workers and forces Mr. Obama to make a decision within 60 days on whether to permit construction of an oil pipeline opposed by environmental groups.
In signing the bill, the president capped nearly a week-long standoff with House Republicans who demanded a full-year extension. Under the deal reached Thursday, House and Senate leaders named negotiators to begin working on a longer-term bill.
Following the bill signing the President said : "When Congress returns, I urge them to keep working without drama, without delay to reach an agreement that extends this tax cut, as well as unemployment insurance, through all of 2012."
Mr. Obama admitted the work is far from over. "I do want to be clear, though: We have a lot more work to do. This continues to be a make-or-break moment for the middle class in this country, and we're going to have to roll up our sleeves together, Democrats and Republicans, to make sure that the economy is growing and to make sure that more jobs are created," he said. "We've got an economy that is showing some positive signs. We've seen many consecutive months of private sector job growth, but it's not happening as fast as it needs to. And that means that we've got to redouble our efforts, working together."
The president also signed the $1 trillion-plus 2012 spending bill that sets the day-to-day budgets of 10 Cabinet agencies. The Senate approved the bill last Saturday in a flurry of year-end activity that was overshadowed by an ensuing confrontation over extending a payroll tax cut. The spending measure locks in cuts that conservative Republicans won from the White House and Democrats this year.
Before boarding Marine One, the president stopped to shake hands with everyone in the press corps and personally wish them a Merry Christmas.