President Obama walks onstage Dec. 22 to urge members of Congress to vote on a short-term compromise that extended the payroll tax cut. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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After A Year of Struggles, Obama Finds His Footing

This has been a year filled with drama and delay between President Obama and Congress, but he's ending it on a high note.

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Lawmakers walk down the House steps to leave for the Christmas holiday. Michael Reynolds/EPA /Landov hide caption

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House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference in Washington last week. The House initially rejected a plan to extend a tax cut for two months to buy time for talks on a full-year renewal. It later compromised — a rare event in 2011. Susan Walsh/AP hide caption

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President Obama speaks in the White House's Brady Briefing Room on Tuesday. Behind the president, a ticking clock counts down the time until taxes will go up if Congress can't reach an extension deal on payroll tax cuts. Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP hide caption

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House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters in the U.S. Capitol on Friday. Pelosi was critical of Speaker John Boehner and the GOP leadership for recessing the House without passing extensions of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, both set to expire at the end of the year. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Junius Brutus Stearns' 1856 painting George Washington Addressing the Constitutional Convention. AP hide caption

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