President Barack Obama is to lock horns with Republicans on Thursday in a final attempt to produce a health care reform compromise during a marathon six-hour meeting to be televised live.
The White House summit promises to be fascinating political theatre, with each side attempting to choreograph it for maximum political advantage.
Republicans realise that blocking a deal will deliver a mortal blow to Mr Obama, but they have to avoid being seen to be obstructionist.
Every detail of the event at Blair House has been negotiated, in much the same way as a presidential debate is arranged. The first demand from Republicans was that Mr Obama would not speak from a lectern on an elevated stage.
When this happened at a Republican retreat for members of the House of Representatives, Mr Obama came across as a teacher talking down to a group of cheeky schoolchildren - much to the delight of Democrats.
On this issue, the Republicans got their way. The summit schedule states: "Participants will be seated at tables in a hollow square setup.
"They'll be identified with name cards."
The summit is due to run from 10am to 4pm, with a break for a buffet lunch.
Democrats on Capitol Hill have cautiously embraced Mr Obama's new $950 billion (£615 billion) health care plan, unveiled on Monday, in which he essentially stuck to his guns over the reform that foundered last month when Scott Brown stunned the White House by capturing a Senate seat in liberal Massachusetts.
The White House used legislation already passed by the Senate - before Mr Brown was elected and Democrats lost their filibuster-proof 60 to 40 majority - as its basis while making some changes designed to appeal to Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Republicans, predictably, denounced the plan. "It should be clear by now that Americans are tired of grand schemes imposed from above," said Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader."Incredibly, they [Democrats] still don't seem to get it."
Mr Obama made health care reform the centrepiece of his first year in office. His plan requires nearly everyone to have health insured or face a fine. It puts new requirements on insurance companies and gives the US government authority to block major increases in premiums.