House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) and ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) (R) question Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf during a hearing on Capitol Hill June 6, 2012 in Washington, D.C. - 

"The lines of communication remain open."

That is as much specific optimism as the players in Washington can offer this morning as they continue negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff. And while the Democrats are in the minority in the House, they still have a job to do.

"The House Democrats actually have a very important role in this process," says Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking member on the House Budget Committee. "Because most people suspect that when an agreement comes to the House of Representatives, it's going to need a big chunk of Democratic votes in order to pass."

He says that's because it is very unlikely that any Tea Party Republicans will agree to any deal. Still, he thinks an agreement will eventually be reached.

"I'm confident that the president will get an agreement that takes a balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction -- meaning a mix of additional revenue from high-income earners, but also some additional cuts," the Congressman adds.

Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich