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Sequestration talks may keep Obama, Boehner in town longer

Dec. 19, 2012 - 09:42PM   |  

With President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner still far apart on a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” the two might find themselves spending precious time together around the holidays.

Obama is scheduled to take off for his family’s annual holiday vacation to Hawaii on Friday, but aides on Wednesday told reporters that they would be surprised if it works out that way for the president, as fiscal cliff talks have gridlocked.

On Wednesday, Boehner called on Obama to get “serious” about negotiations, while the president charged that Republicans have difficulty saying “yes” to him.

If the White House and Congress don’t work out a deal, all Americans will see their taxes hiked and more than $1 trillion in budget cuts will be triggered.

“I remain not only open to conversations, but I remain eager to get something done,” Obama told reporters on Wednesday. “I’d like to get it done before Christmas.”

The president’s departure for his Christmas vacation has been delayed by business with Congress in each of the first three years of his presidency.

In 2009, Obama stuck around Washington for a crucial Christmas Eve vote in the Senate that helped pave the way to his signature health care law.

In 2010, Obama delayed the start of his Hawaii trip by five days to stay in Washington for a productive lame-duck session that included the Senate ratifying a nuclear arms treaty with Russia and passed a measure to allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military — two important legislative priorities for the president. He ended up tacking a day onto the end of his vacation to make up for a bit of the lost time with his family.

Last year, his departure was delayed by several days as the White House and Congress negotiated a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.

First lady Michelle Obama and the president’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, departed nearly a week before the president, travelling to Hawaii on military aircraft.

USA Today staff writer David Jackson contributed to this report.

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