Obama, cutting short his Hawaii family vacation, returned to Washington Wednesday evening and the Senate is also in town to complete other business. The House, however, has not been called back into session.
Expectations for the economic consequences of not achieving a deal are varied; some economists prefer to call the cliff a 'slope' because they view the effects to be gradual, but others say it will plunge the country into recession again.
But according to polling, the political consequences are more dire for Republicans than Democrats if a deal isn't struck. The latest Gallup survey shows 68 percent of Americans support a compromise deal versus 22 percent who think it's important for negotiators to "stick to their principles." The same poll shows about a quarter of people approve of Boehner's leadership on the issue, compared with more than half who approve of the president's leadership.