The White House says a debt ceiling deal has to be hammered out today for Congress to beat the August second deadline.
The Senate will vote this morning on a House-passed bill to constitutionally cap government spending, but that's expected to fail.
Still, the vote itself could clear the way for one of several compromise deals in the works.
"Cut, cap balance is the correct approach because this fundamentally a spending problem," Senator John Thune (R) said.
It passed the Republican-controlled House earlier this week, but no one ever expected it to survive the Senate.
Instead, it's been seen as a necessary hurdle toward a deal on raising the debt ceiling.
"The House Republican extremists have forced this piece of political theater," Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) said.
The White House says this is D-day, the day a deal has to be in place to beat the August second deadline.
"We are clearly under the gun here. The clock is ticking," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
But despite another flurry of meetings on Thursday, the two sides are far apart.
Democrats are standing their ground on entitlements and Republicans won't give in to more taxes or spending.
With time and Uncle Sam's credit running short, Washington is looking for a quick fix to a monumental problem.
Today in "USA Today" President Obama lays out the argument for a deal that's big and meaningful, one that includes the revenue raisers that some Republicans are calling tax increases.
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