Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hawaii: President Obama Signs Crucial Legislation, Plays Golf With Sam Kass & Friends

Clad in golf gear, the President signs legislation
Funding the federal government and six hours on the links at Ko'olau Golf Club...
Honolulu, HI - President Barack Obama on Thursday was clad in golf gear as he signed eight pieces of legislation from the comfort of his vacation rental home in Kailua:  He spent roughly six hours on the links, playing his fourth game of the vacation with five companions, including Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass

Both the bill signing and the post-Christmas game at the Ko'olau Golf Club, located in Kaneohe, were closed to press.  

The legislation included the all-important H.J. Res. 59, the "Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013," which funds the federal government, and "Pathway for SGR Reform Act of 2013," which revises discretionary spending caps for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, and makes various changes to current law.  Both were approved after long, bitter Congressional battles. 

The President also signed H.R. 3304, a major defense spending bill that sets military spending and policy for the next year.  The President signed the bills by hand rather than with an autopen, meaning the documents had to be flown to Hawaii.  The White House released a photo of the signing; the legality of bills signed by autopen caused controversy in the President's first term.

On the links...
The golf game was the President's third with Kass, who this year has played with his boss more times than in any previous year since 2009.   Kass was part of the linkcentric boys' club for the President's game on Christmas Eve and on the first full day of vacation, on Dec. 21.   He's also played with the President in DC, and during summer vacations on Martha's Vineyard.

The rest of the players working the Par 72 greens on the public Ko'olau course for a game that began under drizzly skies at 12:32 PM were also part of the President's Christmas Eve party:  Boyhood friends Mike Ramos and Bobby Titcomb, Chicago intimate Eric Whitaker, and White House aide Marvin Nicholson.

The weather changed to sun during the hours of play, so the stunning vistas of the volcanically-formed Ko'olau Mountain Range, with cascading waterfalls, were visible in the distance as the Presidential party did battle.

At 6:19 PM, President Obama and his party departed Ko'olau, heading back to the vacation compound, which is a little more than six miles away from the greens by motorcade.  As is standard White House practice, no scores were released.

The game was the President's 44th of the year, and the 155th since taking office.

In the morning before hitting the links, shortly after 11:00 AM the President joined the First Family for an hour-long hike on the Manoa Falls Trail, which was under tight security as the party worked their way along the hilly terrain of the popular tourist destination. 

The President on Thursday also issued a holiday message for Kwanzaa, which is celebrated from Dec. 26-Jan. 1.

The President and First Family stayed in for the evening on Thursday.  They have ventured out for just one dinner since arriving on island on Dec. 20, to Morimoto Waikiki, owned by chef Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame. 

The President is scheduled to return to Washington, DC, on Jan. 5th after 17 days on island, where he has no public events scheduled for the duration of his visit.

CLICK HERE for links to holiday posts and CLICK HERE for links to Hawaii posts.

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*Photo by Pete Souza/White House