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Obama Ends Hawaii Vacation

President Barack Obama walks with his daughters Sasha Obama, sixth from right, Malia Obama, second from right, and other family and friends through Honolulu Zoo, 3 Jan. 2011.

U.S. President Barack Obama returns to Washington Tuesday after completing a nearly 2-week holiday vacation in (the Pacific island state of) Hawaii with his family.

The president has been largely out of sight since he began his vacation on December 22. It followed several important victories in the U.S. Congress, including passage of major compromise legislation extending tax cuts and Senate approval of a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

But Obama will be facing a divided legislature, with opposition Republicans taking firm control of the House of Representatives and Democrats suffering a reduced majority in the Senate.

Republican leaders have already announced plans to introduce a measure to repeal the major health care overhaul passed by Congress last year. They have also vowed to reduce federal spending and shrink the size of government.

Speaking to reporters aboard his official plane, Air Force One, during his return flight to Washington, Obama admits "there's going to be politics" as Republicans assert their newly won power, but the president says he is confident "they're going to recognize that our job is to govern."

The president is set to reshuffle the White House staff as he gears up for his re-election bid in 2012. Senior political advisor David Axelrod will return to Chicago, Illinois to head that effort. U.S. news outlets say Obama is considering naming William Daley as his new chief of staff. Daley is a former Commerce Secretary under President Bill Clinton, and is the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

Obama is also due to announce a replacement for Larry Summers, who headed his council of economic advisors.