Obama Will Delay Trip for Senate Vote

Posted December 22, 2009 at 11:15am

Updated: 12:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he will delay his vacation to Hawaii to stay in Washington, D.C., while the Senate votes on health care reform legislation.

“I will not leave until my friends in the Senate have completed their work,— Obama said. “My attitude is if they are making these sacrifices to provide health care to all Americans, the least I can do is be around and provide them any encouragement and last-minute help.—

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said health care reform is close to becoming a reality.

“Health care reform is not a matter of ‘if,’— Gibbs said. “Health care reform now is a matter of ‘when.’ And I think the president is enormously encouraged by that.—

Gibbs acknowledged that there remain “issues that have to be worked out.— But he repeatedly declared that legislation is going to pass.

Gibbs also batted down suggestions that the success has come without Obama’s full attention to the issue. “We would not be at the point we are today if it weren’t for the president’s everyday involvement in this,— he said.

But Gibbs did not deny a statement by Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who said Obama did not press him to support the public option — jettisoned from the bill in part because of Lieberman’s opposition — during their discussions.

“I think the president has been clear on what he supported,— Gibbs said.

Gibbs said he stood by his own an earlier statement insisting the president had done everything he could to get the Senate to approve a public option.