President Obama will delay his trip to Indonesia and Australia by several days to see health care reform over the finish line, the White House announced today. An aide confirmed the president won’t leave March 18 as planned and instead will stay with the expectation the House will be voting on the Senate health care bill.
Obama will leave March 21 and return March 26, the aide said.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who for days has insisted the schedule would not change, detailed the news on his Twitter feed this morning. “The President will delay leaving for Indonesia and Australia – will now leave Sunday – the First Lady and the girls will not be on the trip,” Gibbs wrote.Reporters have been asking Gibbs for several days about whether the White House’s March 18 deadline for passing the Senate health care bill in the House might need to slip past the scheduled trip departure.
“I have — if we have any changes in the schedule, we’ll certainly let you know, but the President believes it is an extremely important trip with — it’s an important region of the world and these are important partners,” Gibbs said. He also had this exchange:
Gibbs: If it takes a couple of days extra, Chip, we’d be happy to have it passed then, too.
Q: Even if he’s already taken off on the trip.
Gibbs: Even if he’s already gone.
Q: So he’s not necessarily going to delay this takeoff.
Gibbs: Well, again, I don’t have any updates for you right now on the trip, except to say the President is going on that trip.
The Associated Press has more on the delay:
The president will visit the same countries as planned — Indonesia, Guam and Australia. The trip was scheduled to coincide with his daughters’ spring vacation from school, but now his family apparently isn’t going.