As shown in the House last week, making either one of these changes would likely create a bill that cannot pass the House. Making both changes would almost certainly require high-level talks between congressional leaders on how to reach a compromise with just five days left before government funding runs out.

But as usual, it's not clear the Senate can approve it. If the Senate finds it can't pass anything, another House-White House conversation might be needed to help find a compromise.

Key detail of the week: The debt-ceiling deal sets discretionary spending limits for fiscal 2012, and both the House and Senate bills set a pace that keeps 2012 spending under the agreed $1.043 trillion cap. But the agreement also allows for $11.3 billion in disaster relief spending above that cap for fiscal 2012.


Senate Democrats are essentially calling on Congress to fund FEMA by using $3.65 billion of that extra cushion, while House Republicans are seeking not to use any of it. Republicans no doubt realize that this extra wiggle room has the potential to negate the $7 billion in cuts that were agreed for fiscal 2012, a small cut many Republicans criticized as not going far enough.

If a compromise is needed, the talks seem likely to be shaped by Democratic arguments that this $11.3 billion is available for use, and Republicans arguments in favor of finding offsets.

As of Monday morning, there were no signs yet that the House would return this week. GOP leaders are awaiting the results of the afternoon Senate vote, and an announcement of further work this week is likely sometime after the vote.

But the House is not in recess, and meets at noon Monday for a pro forma session.