The Hitchhiker’s Guide to where we stand with the government shutdown, debt ceiling

This is to put into context where things stand late Thursday night and what went on in the White House meeting earlier between House Republicans and President Obama.

Senior legislative staff from the Hill continue to talk at the White House with administration officials on the debt ceiling, the government shutdown, ObamaCare, entitlements, taxes and a host of related fiscal issues.

One senior lawmaker involved in the talks told Fox News on the condition that they not be identified that the negotiations “could all blow up tonight.”

Multiple sources said the White House was trying to combine all of the above issues into one tailored package. It is unknown if that would work. But one source familiar with the effort described it as a “goo ball.”

Fox News is told that the start of the meeting with the president was “chippy” with at least two Republican members taking the president to task early on. One challenged Obama specifically for being willing to risk blowing the debt ceiling over a stance of not negotiating The other Republican reminded the president that there was an opportunity at this moment to solve some major fiscal issues and said the sides should declare an end to the standoff.

Fox News has also learned that there was discussion about ObamaCare, but whether that remained a sticking point with Republicans remained unclear.

Sources familiar with the meeting expressed some optimism that if things fall into place, they could re-open the government sometime early next week.

Regardless, Congressional sources signaled that if things were to go well, it may still take several days to resolve all of this. 

 There would need to be time to come to a framework agreement, morph it into legislation, sell it to lawmakers, get buy-in from the right mixture of Republicans and Democrats, etc. They then need to make sure they have the votes to pass legislation, which could be challenging. But both sides are now engaged and a senior House Democratic aide signals to Fox News they may be able to provide votes to help Republicans on certain issues.

The House’s “clean”debt limit plan seems to have fallen by the wayside for the time being. The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.,so far is only signaling that the House will consider yet another mini spending bill on Friday -- this one dealing with nuclear weapon security during the shutdown.

But the key is this: The sides are talking and are now in intense negotiations and trading paper offers to see what each side can bear. That will go on throughout the night. That was not the case at all during this crisis. That marks a significant development.

The bottom line: Friday could be the biggest day in all of this yet.