President Obama, returning to Washington from his Christmas vacation in Hawaii, urged House and Senate GOP leaders to put partisan politics aside in the name of working to boost the economy.

The president said aboard Air Force One he hoped incoming House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) "will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012," according to a pool report.

"And that our job this year is to make sure that we build on recovery," he added. "We started making good progress on that in the lame-duck, and I expect to build on that progress when I get back.”

Obama was asked by reporters during a surprise visit to the press cabin about the House vote next week to repeal his signature healthcare legislation, and whether he expected to get a chilly reception on the Hill.

“I think that there’s gonna be politics, that’s what happens in Washington," he said. "They are going to play to their base for a certain period of time. But I’m pretty confident that they’re going to recognize that our job is to govern."

Obama will be back in Washington Tuesday, one day before the swearing-in of the 112th Congress.