(CNN) – Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer sounded optimistic Sunday about a fiscal cliff deal in the next two days and argued such last-minute efforts are standard in congressional talks.
"Well, there are certainly no breakthroughs yet between (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell and (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid, but there's a real possibility of a deal," the senator from New York said on ABC's "This Week."
"I've been a legislator for 37 years, and I've watched how these things work," he continued. "On these big, big agreements, they almost always happen at the last minute. Neither side likes to give up its position. They eyeball each other until the very end. But then, each side, realizing that the alternative is worse, comes to an agreement."
Such down-to-the-wire negotiations have most notably happened before recent debt ceiling votes and government shutdowns in recent years. Lawmakers are now sprinting to the finish line to find a deficit-reduction deal before the January 1 deadline that would kick off a series of tax hikes and spending cuts, moves that could push the economy back into recession.
Both chambers of Congress reconvene Sunday, with behind-the-scenes talks focused on finding a compromise that is likely to pass in both chambers.
"So while an agreement is hardly a certainty, I certainly wouldn't rule it out at this last minute," Schumer said.
Asked to give his odds on such a deal, Schumer said he thinks the likelihood is "a little higher than" 50-50 that Congress will reach an agreement in time.