President Obama cuts vacation short, fiscal cliff looms

President Barack Obama is cutting short his traditional Christmas holiday in Hawaii, planning to leave for Washington on Wednesday evening as lawmakers consider 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 his native state 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.