While there are signs of movement between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner on the D.C. showdown, signals don't equate to action. Part of the government is still closed; it's a day closer to the date the Obama administration has warned could bring a default on U.S. debt.
Here's what you need to know.
Up to speed
A deal? Not yet, but they're getting closer to the same page. Several House Republican members and GOP leadership sources tell CNN that Republicans are preparing a proposal to raise the debt ceiling for as long as six weeks. The temporary extension would allow more time to negotiate a longer-term deal.
The idea came after President Barack Obama told House Democrats on Wednesday that he would be open to a short-term extension. Republicans plan to discuss the idea with rank-and-file members Thursday morning.
In this proposal, the Republicans would maintain the partial government shutdown.
The hard part?
CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, on "New Day": "It's hard not to be cynical" about a deal.
"The hard part is trying to sell this to an individual House member who's going home to a district where he or she got 55, 60, or 65% or maybe was unopposed in the last election. They worry about back home. That's the split you have right now as the speaker and other leaders try," King said. "First, let's see if they can get a debt ceiling deal. They have to deal with the question: can they get conservatives to drop their obsession with Obamacare and reopen the government somehow. Today we could see a first step maybe."
The back story
CNN's Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger, provides a must-read on how the stalemate got to this point, and says that "the House GOP scheme, abetted by (Republican Senator Ted) Cruz and outside conservatives, will become a case for the civics classes. A study of the newly perverse politics of our time, and how a government was brought to its knees over a fight only a few wanted to wage -- that everyone secretly knew could never be won."
House Republican leadership meets with its caucus members Thursday morning. There could be deeper insight into how the showdown will play out after that meeting. Expect to hear from them around 11 a.m.
President Obama meets with Republican leadership and committee chairs at the White House at 4:30 p.m. Again, another key moment in this mess. A friendlier group --- Senate Democrats --- meets with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at 1:45 p.m.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is answering questions about the debt limit as he testifies before the Senate Finance Committee. This is his moment to explain to debt-default deniers who do not think default is a bad thing.
Debt debate deconstructed
Some lawmakers don't believe the United States will default once the debt ceiling is lifted. Among them is Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. He said the United States won't default because it should prioritize its payments, putting payments on interest on the debt and Social Security at the top of the list.
"I wish we had a president who would take on the responsibility of the office, sit down with us, and address the fundamental problems that cause us to keep borrowing so much money," Toomey said.
Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, rebutted Toomey's argument. She said paying only some of the bills is default.
"We are not a country of anarchists. We are not a country of pessimists and ideologues whose motto is 'I got mine; the rest of you are on your own.' We are not a country that tolerates dangerous drugs, unsafe meat, dirty air or toxic mortgages. We are not that nation," Warren said.
Are the debt deniers right?
Stop fixating on October 17 -- the date the Obama administration says is the debt ceiling deadline.
Here's what October 17 means: Even if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling in the next week, the Treasury Department in all likelihood could continue to pay bills in full beyond that time -- but not for very long.
Because at that point, it will be using the estimated $30 billion in cash it will have on hand, plus whatever daily revenue comes in. It will no longer be able to borrow to make up the difference between expenses and revenue.
The true cash crunch will come sometime by November 1, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.