Obama delays vacation until Senate passes health care bill

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - 1:53pm

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama won't leave Washington for his Hawaii vacation until the Senate finishes work on the health care overhaul, even if that means staying in town for Christmas Eve.

"My attitude 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 provide them any encouragement and last-minute help where necessary," Obama said Tuesday.

The Senate is on track to pass its version of the health care bill on Christmas Eve. The president and his family are expected to spend the holidays in Obama's native Hawaii, but the White House has not provided details of their final plans.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president believes that the legislative process has progressed to the point where it's no longer a question of whether health care reform will pass, but when.

Democrats pushed the legislation over procedural hurdles in the Senate on Tuesday and no last-minute complications were expected to derail a Thursday vote. House-Senate bargainers would then have to complete a compromise that could be sent to Obama for his signature.

Remaining differences between the two chambers include how to pay for the measure and how to restrict federally financed abortions. Gibbs said the president is confident those issues will be resolved.

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