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An emerging bipartisan deal from the Senate is beginning to look like the most promising plan to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding fiscal catastrophe in the process, if lawmakers can get their ducks in a row on time. 

Update, 1:09 p.m. The Collins deal is officially dead. The focus is now on Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell, who began negotiating Saturday morning. Reid isn't confident they can work out a deal. If they do, it's basically the House Republicans' biggest fear. And they have to pass the bill, too. So, uh:

Original The deal must be written, approved and signed into law by Thursday, when the U.S. will apparently hit its spending limit. House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans in a meeting Saturday morning that talks with the White House have fallen apart. As the deadline looms, with every other deal broken and rejected by one side or the other, the best chance the government has to get itself out of this mess is a bipartisan Senate plan. Per The New York Times

Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, were drafting a plan to extend the borrowing limit through the end of January and include a stopgap spending measure that would reopen the government through the end of March. Government agencies would have flexibility on how to handle existing across-the-board spending cuts.

Their plan also would call for a delay or an easing of a tax on medical devices and an immediate bipartisan conference for the House and the Senate to begin negotiations over a budget, with the expectation of an agreement by mid-January.

Politico reports the delay would last for two years, "while paying for the lost revenue by altering the way that pensions are calculated." Nothing is final, though, Politico warns: "The Collins-Manchin draft is not final and is expected to undergo significant revisions in the coming days, sources said."

But there is some division brewing in the Republican party. Or, at least, even more division than before. "Senate Republicans need to stand strong and fight," majority leader Eric Cantor told Republicans Saturday morning, taking a not-so-subtle shot at Sen. Ted Cruz, who is polling terribly by every measure, and his friends. This is both a good and bad idea as it looks like the Senate will once again save the House from the mess it created: 

So that's where it stands. The Senate will likely bail out the House once again, from a mess orchestrated and built by the House. So it goes. But at least the fight to repeal Obamacare is finally, officially dead forever

Now they just have to avoid the cliff. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.