Wednesday: Seven days left

Even if each chamber were to approve its respective bill, it would likely take a weekend flurry of negotiations to reconcile the measures. And that's if they choose to go that route. Other signs emerged that various backup plans might be needed.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) advanced a possible backup plan that would prioritize spending in the event that the debt ceiling is hit.

And in the House, one member has a novel idea: Do nothing, let various tax cuts expire, and resolve the debt crisis that way.

Another question that is emerging is whether Aug. 2 is really the deadline. Various private estimates say the government could run for another few weeks before the money begins to run out, which would either cause a "cash flow management" issue or an emergency budget triage situation, depending on whom you ask.

Meanwhile, Congress on Wednesday might in fact do nothing related to the debt ceiling. The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m., and on paper takes up Reid's Budget Control Act, although it's not clear any votes will be taken.

The House meets at 10 a.m. for speeches and noon to take up three bills. One is H.R. 440, which would establish a religious freedom envoy to the Near East and South Central Asia.

The second is H.R. 2584, the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Various amendment votes are pending, including one that would allow new species to be listed as endangered.

And the third is H.R. 2056, which would require further analysis into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's work to prevent bank failures. This non-controversial bill was debated Tuesday.