President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are meeting this week at the White House to discuss efforts to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff."
"We're not reading out details of the conversation but the lines of communication remain open," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement identical to one released by the White House.
This is the week that the House had initially scheduled to wrap up its lame duck work and the 112th congressional session.
Instead, congressional Republicans and the White House have been at loggerheads over striking a deal that could delay or stop year-end automatic spending cuts and tax-rate hikes that many fear would harm the nation's already-fragile economic recovery.
The talks come as some Republicans are showing more flexibility about approving higher tax rates for the wealthy, one of the president's demands to keep the country from the so-called fiscal cliff -- a mixture of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that many economists say would send the country back into recession.
The administration was demanding the rate return to its former level of 39.6 percent on income above $250,000. The Bush-era tax cut set that rate at 35 percent. But last week, Vice President Joe Biden signaled that rate could be set at somewhere between the two.
The problems the senator was referring to are the country's entitlement programs. And there was some progress on that front, too.
A leading Democrat said means testing for Medicare recipients could be a way to cut costs to the government health insurance program. Those who make more money would be required to pay more for Medicare.
"I do believe there should be means testing, and those of us with higher income and retirement should pay more. That could be part of the solution," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters.
But Durbin said he would not in favor of raising the eligibility age from 65 years old to 67 years old, as many Republicans have suggested.
So far, neither side is talking about what was said behind closed doors.