By Amie Parnes - 12/23/11 06:58 PM EST
Noting he had one last piece of business to attend to before leaving for Christmas vacation, President Obama signed a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut on Friday, officially ending a political stalemate that threatened to hike taxes and nullify unemployment insurance for millions of Americans.
Obama called the tax holiday, "the right thing to do" and urged Congress to keep working to pass a full-year extension "without drama (and) without delay" when they return to Washington in the new year.
Despite recent job growth, Obama said Democrats and Republicans have "a lot more work to do" to improve the economy and help the middle class.
"This continues to be a make or break moment for the middle class in this country and we're going to have to roll up our sleeves together," the president said.
Job growth, the president said, "isn't happening as fast as it needs to. That means we've got to redouble our efforts, working together."
The bill had been held up by House Republicans who wanted to move a bill with a one-year payroll tax holiday, among other provisions. The Senate, however, could not agree on a long-term measure and produced the bipartisan, two-month stopgap. House Republicans accused the Senate and the president of kicking the can down the road.
Obama, however, refused to cave to House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerOvernight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return GOP senator: Reid's 'ramblings' are 'bitter, vulgar, incoherent' MORE's insistence that he support a one-year extension.
All week, Obama called the Senate bill the "only viable option" and the White House launched an aggressive messaging campaign on social networks where Americans had a change to voice what the tax holiday would mean to them.
In an appearance at the White House on Thursday, Obama said more than 30,000 Americans reached out to the White House to voice complaints about the stalemate.
In his statement on Friday, Obama thanked Americans for making their voices heard throughout the heated debate.
"You didn't send us here to play partisan and to see who's up and who's down," he said. "You sent us here to serve and make your lives a little bit better."
Obama, who ended his speech with an "Aloha," is traveling to Hawaii to spend the holidays with his family.