(WASHINGTON) –Weeks of bitter, partisan standoff that divided Republicans finally ended with an agreement on Thursday to extend the payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits for two months.
The agreement was the topic of much discussion in Washington this week, as was speaker John Boehner’s clear dissatisfaction with the short-term bill, but there was no mention of the agreement in the Indiana Congressman, Republican Mike Pence’s address to the nation.
He begins the Christmas Eve address appropriately recalling the origin of the holiday and stressing a commonality between “Americans from all walks of life” who “will celebrate the holidays in their own unique way, in accordance with their own beliefs and traditions.”
But the celebrations come hand in hand with “heartache,” and Pence urges Americans to help those less fortunate, whose struggles are only magnified during the holidays.
“For far too many in America, these are difficult times. Some of our neighbors, family and friends are struggling to make ends meet despite their best efforts, unable to find work in this difficult economy.”
Also critical to remember during this holiday season are those who risked their lives serving our country, fighting to ensure our safety on Christmas Day.
“Even as one conflict draws to a close and joyful homecomings abound, let’s also remember the empty chair at every holiday table for those who won’t be with family this year by virtue of their service and sacrifice for our freedom.
“For all our soldiers and their beloved families, I pray they find peace and comfort in the true meaning of Christmas.
He stresses the need to look back and collect strength from those who have come before us, recalling George Washington’s journey across the Delaware River on Christmas night all those years ago. It was a “battle that turned out to be a defining moment in the history of our still young nation.”
“These are challenging times in the life of this nation, but for all the challenges we face, we can still find renewed strength in the faith and traditions of those who have gone before.”
“May God bless you and your family with a joyous holiday season… Merry Christmas.”
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Sophie Tatum, CNN
Eric Bradner, Dana Bash and MJ Lee, CNN