Waiting Game

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It’s almost like bizarro New Year’s Eve in the Capitol. Staffers seem slightly punch-drunk from all the speculation and hearsay. Cable networks are splashing countdown clocks and breaking-news banners everywhere. (A deal might be close!) Lawmakers are running out of insulting metaphors; Chuck Schumer today characterized the Tea Party wing’s sway over House Republicans to “a flea, wagging a tail, wagging a dog.”

Despite the array of rumors, there is still no deal. From the beginning, John Boehner’s stance has been that “nothing will be decided until everything is decided,” as spokesman Michael Steel said this morning, and while the parties may be edging closer on the outstanding policy riders, not everything is decided. (Politico has announced a breaking deal on riders with unspecified terms, but this was also the GOP party line earlier this afternoon.) A top Senate Democratic aide told TIME that a short-term continuing resolution, which some outlets have cited as a possible alternative to a long-term deal, would merely be a bridge to keep the government open in the event of a long-term pact. And we’re not there yet.

More to come.