* "Fiscal cliff" deadline only hours away * Yields well within a range that has held since early August By Chris Reese NEW YORK, Dec 31 U.S. Treasury debt prices were steady to slightly higher on Monday as investors stayed on the sidelines while Washington officials made last-minute efforts to avert the "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and government spending cuts set to begin tomorrow. The U.S. Congress comes back on Monday without a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" and only a few hours of actual legislative time scheduled in which to act if an agreement materializes. Investors fear the series of tax increases and cuts to the federal budget, set to begin at the start of the New Year, could push the world's largest economy back into recession. "Treasuries remain in a holding pattern as the market awaits the results of the budget debates," said David Ader, head of government bond strategy at CRT Capital Group in Stamford, Connecticut. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were trading 2/32 higher in price with their yield little changed from Friday at 1.70 percent, while 30-year bonds were 1/32 higher in price with their yield steady at 2.87 percent. Treasuries prices rose last week as worries over the impact of the "fiscal cliff" spurred safe-haven buying of U.S. government debt, but yields remain well within a range that has held since early August. The Treasury market will close early on Monday, at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) ahead of the New Year's Day holiday on Tuesday.