President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are still so far apart on a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" that the two might find themselves spending precious time together over the holidays.
Obama is scheduled to take off for his family's annual holiday vacation in Hawaii today, but aides on Wednesday told reporters that they would be surprised if it works out that way for the president. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called it a "fairly fluid situation."
Boehner and Obama haven't spoken since meeting at the White House for negotiations on Monday.
Obama's Christmas vacation departure has been delayed by business with Congress in each of the past three years of his presidency.
In 2009, he stuck around Washington for a crucial Christmas Eve vote in the Senate that helped pave the way for his health care law.
In 2010, Obama delayed the start of his Hawaii trip by five days to stay in Washington for a productive lame-duck session that included the Senate ratifying a nuclear arms treaty with Russia and passing a measure to allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military -- two important legislative priorities for the president. He ended up tacking a day onto the end of his vacation to make up for some of the lost time with his family.
Last year, his departure was delayed by several days while the White House and Congress negotiated a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. First lady Michelle Obama and the president's daughters, Sasha and Malia, departed nearly a week before the president, traveling to Hawaii on military aircraft.
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