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Annual White House holiday party follows tax deal announcement

By Dan Lothian, CNN White House Correspondent
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Obama agrees to extend Bush tax cuts
  • All members of Congress were invited to the annual White House holiday party
  • The party followed the announcement of a "framework" deal on extending tax cuts
  • The party gave members from both sides a chance to air their views on the deal

Washington (CNN) -- The annual White House holiday party for members of Congress fell on the same evening that President Obama announced a "framework" deal on the Bush-era tax cuts.

Based on the optimistic tone from Obama's usual critics, it appears Republicans are getting better gifts under the tree than the president's fellow Democrats.

Arriving for a night of festivities at the southeast entrance to the White House, outgoing Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, said he would reserve judgment until he could review the agreement more carefully on Tuesday, but he expressed some disappointment. "I regret that we are going to have to compromise on it because I think it's terrible we are not basically limiting the tax cut to those who really need it. That's the sad part," he said.

Republicans, like incoming House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell put out statements applauding the efforts of the White House to forge a bipartisan plan to prevent a tax hike.

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However, some Democrats aren't pleased with a deal that they believe rewards millionaires and billionaires with tax breaks they say the country simply can't afford.

But there's a sense of urgency to complete a deal that even the president admits is not 100 percent of what either side wants.

"We have to get an agreement for the sake of the American people," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, as he arrived for the White House holiday party. He added that this issue needed to be resolved so that "people know with greater certainty that taxes are not going to be increased."

It's unknown if any members of Congress, unhappy with the deal, passed on the party, but the White House said all were invited.

One Democrat who has been to many of these functions told CNN "if history is any guide, the ones who are the most vociferous critics of the president... are the most eager to have their photo taken with him and the first lady."

In this tax compromise it seems some of those critics striking a holiday pose with the president were coming from both sides of the aisle.