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Of course, the less significant the deal, the more swiftly it could be approved. Lawmakers have been speaking for weeks about a two-part process to deal with the wide range of spending and revenue issues facing them. If the first part of that agreement, for example, is just the House taking up an already-approved tax bill passed by the Senate to extend tax breaks to 98 percent of Americans, politicians could get home quickly.
The deadline pressure could start forcing the sides to move together, but sources in both parties and chambers seemed resigned Wednesday to the notion that they will break for two days at most for the holiday and then return for the remainder of December.
Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.