The Senate on Monday voted easily on a procedural measure to bring the tax-cut package to the floor, where the upper chamber is expected to pass it Tuesday afternoon.
What happens with the proposal is less certain in the House, where liberals openly revolted over a tax-cut extension for upper incomes and an estate-tax provision allowing families to transfer $10 million to their children tax-free.
Complicating the schedule, Democrats are also hoping to consider several other bills in the lame duck, including the DREAM Act, the New START nuclear arms treaty, and repeal of the Pentagon's "Don't ask don't tell" policy banning gays serving in the military.
The House Democratic Caucus is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss its strategy moving forward.
Last year, Congress was in session right up until holidays, with the Senate voting Christmas Eve to pass the Democrats' healthcare reform bill. Leaders had hoped they could avoid a similarly long December schedule in 2010. Whether they succeed remains to be seen.