Obama, Schatz fly to Washington as "fiscal cliff" looms - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Obama, Schatz fly to Washington as "fiscal cliff" looms

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

President Barack Obama left Hawaii Wednesday night, cutting short his traditional holiday vacation.

Air Force One departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam shortly after 10 p.m. The president's motorcade arrived at the base at about 9:45 p.m. Obama got out of the presidential SUV and shook hands with a group of military personnel and their families before boarding Air Force One for the flight back to Washington.

U.S. Senate Appointee Brian Schatz arrived at Hickam Field at about 9:20 p.m. and boarded Air Force One as well. Schatz was named by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye. Schatz is scheduled to be sworn in as early as Thursday.

The president headed back to Washington for budget talks with lawmakers, who are considering how to prevent the economy from going over the so-called fiscal cliff.The White House said Tuesday that first lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters will remain in Hawaii. Obama is expected to arrive in Washington early Thursday.

The first family left Washington last Friday night. In the past, the president's end-of-the-year holiday in Hawaii has stretched into the new year.

Congress is expected to return to Washington on Thursday.

Automatic budget cuts and tax increases are set to begin in January. So far, the president and congressional Republicans have been unable to reach agreement on any alternatives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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