Obama Challenges Congress: Take Care of Business, or Skip Your Christmas Break

With the payroll tax and unemployment extensions hanging in the balance, the White House tells Congress to do its job or forego vacation.

Posted: 12/13/2011 03:42 PM EST

There has been no shortage of criticism leveled against Congress as of late. And now the White House is getting a little piece of the action with threats to put Congress’ holiday vacation on hold until further notice. 

 

Today White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a harsh rebuke aimed at Congressional Republicans as the debate over the year-end budget, unemployment insurance and payroll tax extensions wages on.

 

“The president is not willing to leave town or let Congress leave town without ensuring that millions of Americans won’t have their taxes go up a thousand dollars next year. Congress can do this before they leave for vacation,” said Carney.

 

There are fears that in order to avoid an end-of-year government shutdown, Congressional Republicans will push the budget through but neglect to deal with the lingering unemployment and payroll tax extensions. 

 

Carney told reporters, “I think it’s pretty clear that we cannot take a promise that Republicans will deal with the payroll tax extension before they leave. Therefore we believe it should be passed into law. The President makes it clear he’s not going to accept Congress leaving Washington while the middle class is left holding the bag.”

 

Republicans have backed a measure that includes provisions to speed up approval of the controversial Keystone oil pipeline, even though the State Department has said it would not recommend such a project. “If Republicans support giving middle-class Americans a tax cut next year they should move a bill to do that," Carney said. "They should not include a provision that is not acceptable.”

 

In the meantime, Congress appears no closer to reaching an agreement, even though the government is slated to run out of funding come Friday.

 

Another deadline that people are actually glad to see come is the end of the year, when the remaining troops in Iraq will finally come home for the holidays. In advance of that day, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Fort Bragg, N.C. to thank them and their families for their sacrifice.  

 

But questions remain about whether Iraq can handle its own security in a region that has proven to be tumultuous. Carney said, “There will be violence. What we have seen is a trajectory that has resulted in lower and lower violence in Iraq. We believe Iraq will continue to move toward greater stability and greater security.”

 

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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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