While there are a lot of rumblings Thursday of a "deal" to raise the debt ceiling and cut $3 trillion, one should be very careful with those reports. There is a potential framework of something, yes. But senior House aides tell Fox News no one in leadership is willing to start talking about the $3 trillion over a decade deal as an earnest backup plan until the Senate disposes with Cut, Cap and Balance on Friday.
Sources say Senate work this weekend is still to be determined. Some say it could work and possibly vote on a "Plan B" proposal, but that is unclear at this point.
Some other news outlets have reported that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will present an "alternative" to the House GOP in the morning. Senior aides say that is not the case. He won't cite any particular plan. But he will give an update as to where negotiations are.
In short, Boehner is keeping the $3 trillion option in his back pocket. He is expected to remind the conference about the consequences of a default and what that means. Even to Tea Party loyalists and fiscal conservatives, a default is a budget buster. If they just voted for the Ryan Budget, a default probably creates a new $1 trillion hurdle.
GOPers are banking on that being a persuasive argument to the rank and file to make some concessions. But tax increases remain off the table to the GOP.
In addition, there is method to the madness of sending lawmakers home for the weekend in the House. Sure, there is lots of sniping back and forth between the House and Senate over why one side is working and why one is not this weekend, especially since the House prepared its members to be in session and then dialed that back.
The reason is that GOP leadership wants the Senate to move through Cut Cap and Balance first. And keeping its members here all weekend would do nothing but to make the firebrands stew a little more.
One lawmaker said the approach by the GOP leaders was to get some of the hard-right members away from one another and get them back into their districts so they could talk to people.
One source indicates that calling off a proposed weekend session accomplishes a couple of things. First, it serves as a steam escape valve to relieve the pressure in Washington. Secondly, it gets the members talking to people who don't want to see the country default. Yes, there will be some arguing for people to stand their ground. But by the same token, the leadership knows the polls don't favor the GOP on this right now. And hearing enough fear from people back home may make them ready to deal.
Remember, Boehner went out of his way at today's press conference to say that interest rates will spike if the nation defaults. In addition, he said that it would be irresponsible for them not to begin looking at backup strategies.
So, once Cut, Cap and Balance is off the table, there's potential for Boehner to bring forth some sort of a possible deal. But nothing will move before then. Hence his strong statements today on Rush Limbaugh's program that "there is no deal."
Fox News senior Senate producer Trish Turner contributed to this report.