President Obama and members of the Senate are set to return to Washington on Thursday to make a last-ditch effort at a deal to avert more than a half-trillion dollars in automatic tax increases and spending cuts just five days before they start kicking in.
Even with so much at stake, there appeared to be little sense of urgency. Senate aides say most senators are not likely to be back on Capitol Hill before Thursday evening. And while the House may technically be in session, Republican leaders told members last week they would be given a 48-hour notice before they should return, and that notice has not yet been given.
Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have also not talked in days, according to aides on both sides. But lawmakers continue to say a deal is possible to avert the "fiscal cliff," when taxes leap to Clinton-era rates on Jan. 1 and $100 billion in across-the-board cuts to military and domestic programs kick in the next day.