On the Senate floor at close to 3 p.m., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that negotiators were very close to deal. 

"I can report that we've reached an agreement on all of the tax -- the tax -- issues. We are very, very close," he said.

About an hour earlier, President Obama said there were “still issues to resolve” in the talks. He said he was “hopeful that Congress can get it done. But it’s not done.” Talks have been hung up on spending, with Democrats reportedly resisting a Republican proposal to delay automatic spending cuts for just three months.

McConnell said he and Vice President Biden had spoken multiple times this morning since their first 6:30 a.m. call and had resolved their differences on taxes. But he echoed Obama's contention that the two sides had not yet resolved a dispute about whether to delay automatic spending cuts.

McConnell pushed for Congress to move ahead and pass the tax agreement--and debate a replacement to the so-called "sequester" in coming months.

"We'll continue to work on finding smarter ways to cut spending, but let's not let that hold up protecting Americans from the tax hike that will take place in about ten hours," he said. "We can do this. We must do this."