The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Next Several Hours

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I am told by senior staff here that if they get a deal, they will immediately work on the "bridge" CR.

They seem to be close on a broader deal. I would anticipate some movement on Planned Parenthood...perhaps where they don't completely defund Planned Parenthood...or give pro-life lawmakers an out with some sort of an abortion provision (similar to the one in the $12 billion CR yesterday that blocked federal and local funding of abortions in DC).

I am told that the biggest problem with this seems to be with House conservatives.

Regardless, if they are to make a midnight deadline on the bridge bill (to keep the government open for a few days while they write the bill that funds the government for the rest of the fiscal year), I am told that 9 pm is the cutting off point to get something done by midnight.

Once they are ready to do the bridge bill, the Senate would probably strip out the body of the CR the House passed yesterday, and replace it with what's called a "substitute," making the original bill a shell. To fill the shell, the Senate would then insert the entire text of the new bill..which funds the government for a few days...maybe has a minor rider in it...and probably pays the military and runs our operations in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would then "fill the tree." The Senate has an "amendment tree," which limits how many amendments can be in play at any one time. The Senate would then probably approve the bill by "voice vote" or by "unanimous consent." That prevents a full roll call vote which chews up precious time.

Then the bill comes to the House with its modifications. Conceivably, the House could voice vote too..or approve it by unanimous consent. However, most members here might require a full blown roll call. Once the bill is passed, it goes to the White House for the president's signature.

So if this goes past midnight, as is looking increasingly likely, technically yes...the government is in a shutdown. But not much in the federal government goes on after midnight. So if they work it out overnight, no harm, no foul. But technically, yes, there WAS a government shutdown...say if this is finally signed into law at 4 am.

Also, please note this anomaly: a federal shutdown requires a day to actually execute the shutdown. So even if this bleeds further into Saturday, without full funding, then it doesn't wound folks that much...if they don't have this hashed out until say, Saturday night.

We are also hearing that Reid will come to the floor around 8 pm. I would anticipate that time sliding a bit, perhaps until 9 pm.