By all accounts, though, an end seems near for the impasse that has once again exposed a government so divided that it sometimes borders on dysfunction. Though the House failed to muster sufficient support for a conservatives-only bill in the GOP-majority chamber on Tuesday, enough Republicans there seem likely to join House Democrats to approve a bipartisan version if it can be approved by the Senate and sent to them.
Politically, neither party is faring well, but polls indicate Republicans are bearing the brunt of public unhappiness as survey after survey shows their approval ratings plunging.
There was no indication Tuesday night of the terms of a possible deal under discussion by Reid and McConnell, although the contours of an agreement had already come into shape on Monday, before what amounted to a daylong detour to give Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans time to craft their solution.
As it stood previously, the bipartisan Senate talks were focused on a plan to allow the Treasury to borrow freely through Feb. 7 and reopen the government with enough funds to carry over to mid-January.
Congressional negotiators would be appointed to seek a long-term deficit reduction plan, and in the meantime federal agencies would receive increased flexibility to deal with the impact of across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect on about Jan. 15.
With Republicans opposed, the likelihood faded for including an earlier proposal to delay a $63-per-person fee that the nation's health care overhaul would impose on companies for all who receive coverage under an employer-provided plan.
It appeared likely that any deal would include a provision requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to verify the income of individuals seeking federal subsidies to purchase coverage under Obamacare.
Before Tuesday was devoted to the House Republicans' effort, those Senate negotiations had seemed headed for success.