Friday: With five days left, can Congress do it?

The House Rules Committee late Friday approved a rule allowing quick changes to be made and immediately be considered on the floor, which offers some hope. But even if House passage is possible, Senate Democrats say they oppose House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) bill.

At the same time, it remains unclear whether the Senate can pass anything of its own — the Senate waited patiently for the House to complete its work Thursday night, but was only waiting to reject the House bill.

With the Senate only able to reject House proposals, and the House unable to pass its latest proposal, talk of the 14th Amendment solution returned on Thursday. That solution involves a unilateral lifting of the debt ceiling by the president, who would presumably cite as justification the 14th Amendment, which says the validity of debts shall not be questioned.

President Obama has hinted he would be willing to take on this responsibility, which would allow Republicans to absolve themselves. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) endorsed the approach in a television interview last night.

Despite yesterday's impasse, the House meets at 9 a.m. for legislative work and is expected to try again to pass its Budget Control Act, possibly an amended version.

Before noon, votes are expected on six bills that rename post offices around the country, as well as H.R. 440, which would create a special envoy to promote religious freedom in 31 Near East and South Central Asian countries.

The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m., but has no firm plans.