March 20th, 2013
11:22 AM ET
1 year ago

Obama tells Netanyahu 'it's good to get away from Congress'

(CNN) - Stepping off Air Force One Wednesday in Tel Aviv, President Barack Obama seemed to breathe a sigh of relief at escaping a gridlocked Washington.

"It's good to get away from Congress," Obama was heard telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a formal arrival ceremony at the Ben Gurion Airport. The quip elicited a big laugh from Netanyahu and a grin from Obama, who then posed for photos.

The president's trip to the Mideast comes as lawmakers and the White House continue to haggle over tax rates and spending cuts. The two sides weren't able to strike a deal avoiding mandatory spending cuts at the beginning of March, and are currently deadlocked over how to fund the federal government past the end of the month.

The current funding measure expires March 27, and a partial government shutdown would occur if a new funding authorization isn't in place.

Obama's relations with lawmakers, icy for years, seemed to thaw recently as the president embarked on a "charm offensive" with rank-and-file members. He took GOP senators out to dinner in Washington, lunched with the House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, and traveled to Capitol Hill for meetings with the entire Republican and Democratic coalitions in the House and Senate.

But some Republicans were skeptical of the outreach, saying it was a way for Obama to appear conciliatory without striking true compromise.

Netanyahu also faces the task of working with legislators who don't always see eye-to-eye with him. In January's election, his faction lost seats, and the coalition government formed last week excludes ultra-religious parties, which have in the past been Netanyahu's allies.

The prime minister said last week that passing a budget would be the first task for the new government. Israel also faces a budget deficit, and like the U.S. must negotiate spending cuts and tax rates as part of a solution.


Filed under: Israel • President Obama
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. PJ

    Not to worry, Mr. President, when you get home Congress will be on their umpteenth vacation, this time their
    Easter break. After all, the poor little things are worn out from doing nothing.
    Be safe!!!

    March 20, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    In January's election, his faction lost seats, and the coalition government formed last week excludes ultra-religious parties, which have in the past been Netanyahu's allies.
    ----------------
    Is it coincidence that Netanyahu's re-election, and ability to form a viable coalition, seemed to be totally in doubt until this trip by Pres. Obama was announced? Did anyone else notice that?

    Notice how the hard line, ultra-conservatives are no longer with Netanyahu.

    March 20, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. critical thinking

    "It's good to get away from Congress" translation : It's good to get away from my responsibilities of managing the government.

    March 20, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. Wake up People!

    Can you blame him? Let the GOP and Fox tell it everything was just great until January 2009 and that's when everything went wrong. The saddest part is you actually have real people that believe it.

    March 20, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Jim

    "But some Republicans were skeptical of the outreach, saying it was a way for Obama to appear conciliatory without striking true compromise."

    Who cares! Please CNN, stick to the issues, not the brownie points or political scoring points, they do nothing but cheapen everything into political theater where everyone ignores the issues and only cares about who's winning. Please, stop giving political scoring the time of day. Who cares! You don't have to make anything and everything political scoring theater, please stick to the issues. Help bring about change to actually get things done.

    March 20, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. plain&simple

    All the complaining by the right wing nut jobs about Obama carries no validity....here he is working while congress vacations!! Compare the days off!!!

    March 20, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "It's good to get away from Congress," Obama was heard telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . . ."

    I hear you, Mr. President. Perched on my fence here in America, a few weeks of vacation FROM America is looking better and better.

    March 20, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Joi Gibson

    @PJ
    ---------------------–
    Ditto! Can't say I blame the President. I too get tired of all their jaw flapping and accomplishing nothing yet it all seems to be President Obama's fault that they are useless.

    March 20, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. julie

    ain't that the truth PJ...............you crack me up, but congress is wornout from obstruction, filibustering, saying hell naw
    and yes congress will be on break AGAIN....................I wonder Y they all have on blue neck ties

    March 20, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Netanyahu also faces the task of working with legislators who don't always see eye-to-eye with him.
    -------------------------------------------------
    I am so proud of this man as our President. Incredibly proud. He exudes charm, intelligence, and diplomacy.
    He found commonality with Nettie, and they both had a bonding laugh over it!!
    Good start to your visit sir.

    March 20, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. Pete

    PJ congress has been on permanent vacation like their expresident Bush since they inaugerated Pres.Obama,nothing new here,most certainly right!!Now while the president cats away the republican mice will come out to play to see if they can up with something more ignorent,self destructive than their voting almost unanimously the sequester bill sending it to a happy Pres.Obama to sign..Republicans still in denile think it'll hurt Pres.Obama in the future but remember republicans its going to kill you sooner because midterms is right around the corner and the sequester signing just goes to show how ignorent you were in having him sign your death warrents ..Republicans never seem to surprise me with their ignorence because its a trait they've had for decades,nothing new here from them and it'll continue till all these present republicans are gone and a new wave of politicians come in to really help the people not just say so like the present ones do!!

    March 20, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    "But some Republicans were skeptical of the outreach, saying it was a way for Obama to appear conciliatory without striking true compromise."
    ----------------
    Don't "some Republicans" realize how unconciliatory that they sound saying stuff like that? No doubt that right wing media won't notice, but hopefully the American people will notice.

    March 20, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. Country Above Parties

    Mr. President, don't let this arrogant Natanyahu treat you like he is above you. Remember the relationship: adopted father to spoiled untamed child. We give them $3 billions and much more... demand respect in return. Dont let rest of the world laughing at us for so-called equal relationship.

    March 20, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Mr. President, you're actually on official business. But feel free to kick back and enjoy the cous cous. You haven't even scratched the surface in vacation time used compared to your predecessor.

    March 20, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Be honest

    The POTUS is happy to be anywhere where he doesn't have to make decisions, be accountable, lead effectively or listen to anyone else's opinion!
    He likes to wheedle, whine, blame others and beg for attention at every opportunity.

    Americans ought to think outside the box and see the man as the rest of the world sees him. See how he swept the disgrace of his own Ambassador's murder under the carpet because it showed HIS own failings? lol – you people CHOSE to re-elect him so you're never likely to admit your failures either, are you?

    March 20, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    critical thinking wrote:

    "It's good to get away from Congress" translation : It's good to get away from my responsibilities of managing the government.
    ---------------–
    Allow me to point out the not quite so obvious. When asked about attending the new Pope's installation ceremonies, House Speaker John Boehner said that he was "too busy". Republicans are always "too busy" to do *anything* with the Democrats.

    March 20, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Al-NY,NY

    since 99% of GOP members give him no respect whatsoever why shouldn't he say that?

    March 20, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. freedom

    It's good to get away from the mess of America he's making. We're stuck here resisting all of his policies while he travels the globe. Netenyahu, with all of his integrity, strength, and conviction makes Obama's weaknesses and lack of integrity even more accentuated.

    March 20, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. rla

    Congress is there to limit the president and it happes with every president and they never understand why- ANSWER tio prevent an imperial president.. So don't blame the congress for doing its JOB!

    March 20, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Except,
    When did Obama ever visit the Congress? Where is the budget for over 4 years now? A day late and a dollar short. Will we have a budget this next 4 years ? Appearently it's your way or the highway. Well son, you ran for the job. Now do it.

    March 20, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  21. rs

    Wow, that coment says quite a bit about how wonderful it must be to work with Congress given Netanyahu's rather overt support for Mr. Romney, and his attempt to influence the outcome of the American election.

    Oddly, I agree, perhaps we as a nation would be better off if Congess could simply go away for several months and perhaps nt convee again until they ctually dcde t o the idding of Ameicn Citizens, and not, say Defense contractors, gun-makers,and anti-tax nuts.

    March 20, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Rick McDaniel

    Obama is pathetic. He tries to run over Congress, and force them to do his bidding, and then tries to blame them, for HIS problem!

    March 20, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. Mark in Seattle

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Rick McDaniel

    Obama is pathetic. He tries to run over Congress, and force them to do his bidding, and then tries to blame them, for HIS problem!
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The gop that sits on their butts doing nothing but obstructing are the ones that are pathetic. So glad I expect more from elected officials than you R McD.

    March 20, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Ray E. (Georgia)

    Except,
    When did Obama ever visit the Congress?
    ------------------------–
    Let's go to the video tapes. State of Union address. Remember? That's the one where Sen. Rubio forever associated himself with bottled water. "All too easy."

    March 20, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. shuman

    Yeah, that one dinner with Republican Senators in 4+ years must have been a real strain on obama's social agenda.

    March 20, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |