Obama: Congress ‘tougher’ than G8

As a summit of world leaders in Italy concluded, President Obama said dealing with Congress is more difficult than negotiating global issues with the leaders of the G8.

In a wide-ranging press conference outside Rome, Obama joked about how much easier it is to find agreement on issues like climate change and nuclear proliferation with other world leaders than it is with Congress.

“It's not even close,” a smiling Obama said. “Congress is always tougher.”

Obama is struggling to get Congress to approve his healthcare plan and climate change legislation. The G8 leaders agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but missed out on a more important agreement that would have put into place emissions targets for both wealthy countries and developing nations such as China and India.

Obama said Friday he is “confident” Congress can tackle healthcare reform before the August recess, though he acknowledged it would take some tough negotiations.

“I never believe anything is do-or-die, but I really wanna get it done by the August recess,” Obama said.

That timetable appears to be in jeopardy, particularly in the Senate, where a key panel has yet to unveil a bill. The House is scheduled to remain in Washington for three more weeks and the Senate for four more weeks before the summer recess.

Obama meets today with Pope Benedict XVI, and will visit Ghana on Saturday for his first trip as president to sub-Saharan Africa.