The User's Manual to the Debt Crisis, Sunday Night Edition

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Here are some things to watch for as we are said to be close to a deal, but not there yet.

For starters, the House GOP has not conducted a conference call today with its rank and file members. I am now told that such a group call with all members won't happen until the entire framework is nailed down. That is not the case yet.

I am told by sources here they don't want members to start asking and floating new possibilities. So, in essence, they're keeping the rank-and-file out of it until they nail down the details.

Secondly, I am told by sources that they are in fact whipping this vote to get a sense of where members stand.

We are not sure if the GOP leadership has reached out to the Democratic whip operation for help yet. As of midday, they had not.

Conservatives and tea party-backed Republicans will have trouble with this bill. The balanced budget amendment provision will upset many affiliated with the tea party movement. It mirrors Boehner 1, so look at the trouble they had there last week. But buy-in from Democrats will help.

Defense cuts will ignite a firestorm among hawkish Republicans...especially after a feisty press conference Saturday where GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee blasted Republicans and Reid for cuts in that bill.

So, the GOP whip operation will have to work on these members. But they are gettable. And it is certainly believed that these pro-defense Republicans are more willing to bend than the tea party faction.

Also remember, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) is an acolyte of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). When Boehner chaired the Education and the Workforce Committee, McKeon was one of his lieutenants, serving as a subcommittee chair. When the GOP elected Boehner Majority Leader, McKeon took over as chairman of Education and the Workforce.

Next, there may be issues on the Democratic side of the aisle. The most-liberal blocs of members, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are fighting mad and demanding that the president invoke the 14th Amendment to avoid a vote on this and not commission any "deal at all."

Also, senior Republican sources tell me here that it's unlikely that anything on this would move in the House before tomorrow night at the EARLIEST. Plus, it's looking increasingly likely they could start this process in the Senate. This is what I call the "Mikey" method (if you remember Mikey from the Life Cereal commercials). None of the other kids would try the cereal until Mikey tried it. And once Mikey was eating it, all of the other kids were game and started to chow down.

It is believed that this will be an easier (and that's a relative term) sell to the Senate. If the votes are there, they might start in the Senate. That could convince a number of wavering House members to vote yes if the Senate has already okayed the deal. Plus, it may help if their home state senators voted yea, to give them political cover.