Time is running out for a "fiscal cliff" deal to pass Congress, lawmakers said as President Barack Obama was to go to Detroit to tout raising taxes on the rich.
"We're getting down to as late as it's physically possible to actually turn a framework into enactable legislation and then actually get it passed," Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., told The Washington Post.
"For senators to responsibly vote on a big, bold framework or package, we need time to review, debate and discuss this. And we are rapidly running out of running room," he said, explaining he anticipated a complex bill with "many real consequences for average Americans' lives."
His comments came after Obama met privately at the White House Sunday with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in their first face-to-face meeting in nearly a month.
It was also their first one-on-one session since July 2011, when they tried to forge a far-reaching "grand bargain" on taxes and spending.
Neither side would provide details, but the White House and Boehner's office issued identical statements afterward saying "the lines of communication remain open."
Disclosure of the meeting indicated private discussions were moving forward despite political theatrics and threats from both sides, the Los Angeles Times said.
"My guess is still that we will reach a deal, but I do not think that anything is either certain or imminent," Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and a Boehner lieutenant, told The New York Times Sunday night.
"If they reach a deal, I suspect the majority of our [House Republican] Conference will support the speaker. I hope the president can command equal support on his side of the aisle," Cole said.
The private talks Sunday took place after a week in which Obama held several campaign-style public events seeking to support his argument Republicans risk damaging the fragile but recovering economy by refusing to meet his demands for higher taxes for the wealthy.
He also met with business people, labor leaders and middle-class Americans.
Obama was to continue the campaign-like activities Monday with a trip to Detroit Diesel Corp., a diesel engine maker owned by Daimler AG in Redford, Mich., 15 miles west of Detroit.
Obama was to tour the plant starting at 1:35 p.m. EST and deliver remarks to workers at 2 p.m., the White House said Sunday night.
Obama has been seeking to pressure congressional Republicans to back his plan to head off the so-called fiscal cliff in the next three weeks.
If no agreement is reached, virtually all the tax cuts passed under the George W. Bush administration would expire after Dec. 31, resulting in a $2,200 tax hike for an average family of four next year, officials estimate.
Obama wants to extend the cuts for the middle class, but let them lapse for taxable incomes above $250,000 a year.
Republicans oppose higher tax rates for all U.S. taxpayers and have proposed raising revenue by eliminating tax loopholes and ending some deductions.
Economists warn the broad tax increases, combined with across-the-board deep spending cuts for virtually every government program and department, could cause the economy slip back into recession.
Congress was to resume Monday. Republicans who control the House have changed their calendar to remain in session an additional week before the holidays to be available to vote on a deal.