As fiscal cliff date approaches, politicians argue about Christmas

An odd yet troubling factor has entered the U.S. fiscal cliff debate: Christmas vacation.

According to media sources, the House Republican leadership, including Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), has made it abundantly clear that their caucus will continue to work on a deal in Washington after the start of the traditional Congressional holiday break, even if that means working until Christmas. Their Democratic rivals have rejected this call, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who have come out against the idea of missing the time off with their families.

"We're going to stay here right up until Christmas Eve, throughout the time and period before the New Year, because we want to make sure that we resolve this in an acceptable way for the American people," Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House Majority Leader, was quoted as saying during a press conference.

It's a troubling sign for observers of the debate, including U.S. investors who remain skittish about the idea of tax hikes and spending cuts, the former of which is expected to hit capital gains and dividends when President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law reform comes into full effect in 2013.

Minority Leader Pelosi responded negatively to the idea of skipping the break, implying that Congressional members needed to spend time with their families just like anybody else.

"Faith and family, that's what the holidays are about," she told reporters on December 12. "These are bonding opportunities for families and strengtheners for our families. We should home for that."

Financial experts who are nervously eyeing stock market reactions to the negotiations are almost certainly praying for a quick resolution, something that would be pushed to the very last minute if Congress took a break during the talks.

There is one encouraging sign, according to media reports. Following this week's revelation that Republicans and Democrats have exchanged another set of offers, the White House and Capitol Hill have been mostly silent on the details, suggesting that some of the undiscussed elements could wind up in a final deal.

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