Washington (CNN) – There is a growing sense among Democratic and Republican Senate leadership aides that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will be able to get enough votes to get his deficit reduction and debt ceiling increase bill passed. And if that happens, says a Senate GOP leadership aide, "the psychology changes overnight."
Republicans argue that a House-passed Boehner plan would then put the onus on Democrats. "If you filibuster Boehner, you filibuster us into default," says one GOP aide. The Democrats see it differently: "Whoever blocks the last thing is the culprit," says a Democratic leadership aide. "And Boehner won't be the last thing."
Right now-as the legislative process continues-there are ongoing backchannel discussions between various congressional leaders hashing out possible avenues to a compromise bill, sources familiar with the talks told CNN. Obviously, the Democrats do not want a second vote on a debt ceiling increase before the election. But there's another concern: the proposed deficit commission. What if it ends in stalemate? What if Republicans appoint no-taxers to the groups. "We could be forced into all-cuts approach and that would be a trap," says one Democratic aide.
Sources close to the negotiations tell CNN that Vice President Joe Biden is very much in the mix of the backchannel conversations that are occurring on a possible fallback position.
"There is no secret deal waiting in the wings," one of the sources says. "But there are talks with everyone at the moment."
As for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he, too is engaged in trying to figure out a way forward if neither of the current bills being considered can get enough support to get through both chambers.
McConnell has said he supports the bill pushed by House Speaker John Boehner, but some sources have said if that plan cannot get through the Senate McConnell will be a key person in trying to forge a compromise plan.
One source close to McConnell says he talks with Biden "from time to time," but cautions that "they're not negotiating or working on a deal."
In other words, the source says "they communicate," but "they're not in talks."
Democrats are about to engage in a public call for McConnell to intervene to help find a consensus.
In the Senate a compromise could possibly be attached to or be substituted for the Boehner bill if it does pass the House.
"We need McConnell to step up and give the big boy talk to the Republicans," says the Democratic source. Get ready to hear a lot of that from Democrats soon.
McConnell, by nature, seems to relish that role. "We are going to have to get back together and get a solution here. We cannot get a perfect solution, from my point of view, controlling only the House of Representatives. So I am prepared to accept something less than perfect because perfect is not achievable," McConnell told reporters Tuesday.
One idea Democrats are talking about – as a way to circumvent their problems with a commission – is to propose, if this special panel doesn't produce a deficit reduction package, then there would be an automatic vote on the so-called "Gang of Six" bipartisan $3.7 trillion plan, the Democratic source told CNN. That outline includes major spending cuts, entitlement reforms and revenue increases. It's the Democratic insurance policy that revenues would be part of any solution.
CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.