Washington (CNN) - While Sen. Harry Reid will lead the fight to table the Boehner bill Thursday night, he will not introduce his own plan immediately, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide. Instead, says this source, Democratic leaders will deliver an ultimatum: There will be a short window for all parties to "negotiate in good faith," this source says. Failing any progress within this "short" time-frame, "we will start the clock on passage of the Reid proposal."
He refused to specifically say what that window would be, but he called it "narrow"-which could mean as little as a day, given Senate rules. He says the Senate Democrats will speak about this tonight, presumably after the vote to table Boehner.
If there is no progress, he adds, "we will have an up or down vote on the Reid bill, and it will be framed as 'are you for or against default?"" Senate Democrats continue to say that, under the "appropriate circumstances" –presumably given the time pressure-that Reid's bill would be able to pass.
It's clear, this source says, that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has not been able to openly talk about a plan B since he has given his full backing to the Boehner bill. "He can't show any leg until the House passes Boehner," he says.
In response, a senior Republican leadership aide tells CNN, “This is the clearest sign yet that Democrats are nervous, and a sign that they have no bill that can pass the Senate. And they know that if the House passes a bill today, we can end the crisis tomorrow.”
While this is hardball, the Democrats also clearly believe that there is, as the source puts it, "a way to create some political space to get out of our paralyzed condition."
The Democrats demand: an enforcement mechanism for a future round of deficit reduction that "doesn't jeopardize" a debt ceiling increase through 2012 (in other words, not another protracted debate and uncertain vote). And second, a guarantee that any second round of deficit reduction would "include revenues as well as spending cuts." As you know, there is great cynicism among Democrats that any commission charged with future cuts would be able to produce a so-called "balanced" plan.