A preliminary outline between the White House and Republicans suggested that the "trigger" for the panel would be across-the-board spending cuts to entitlements and the Defense Department's budget if the 12 lawmakers on the special committee fail to reach a deal.
Sources confirmed Sunday night that the last obstacle to settling the trigger issue is determining the level of the defense cuts. Republicans would like cuts limited to 2 percent of total DOD spending, while Democrats are pushing for 3 percent.
With Senators refusing to answer questions from a swarm of reporters following them across the Capitol, it is unclear how the enforcement mechanism was settled. But for Reid to hold votes soon indicates that a deal is close to cooked. He will need 60 votes to send the measure to the House, where Boehner will face an even more complicated vote calculus given the conservative members of his Conference.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.