As the first furlough notices went out on Capitol Hill Thursday, Democrats accused Republicans of holding up the spending deal over unrelated matters like abortion.
"This is no longer about the budget deficit, it's about bumper stickers. It's about your favorite issue from years gone by," said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
Republicans argued Democrats were blocking the deal by refusing to cut deeper.
"The status quo is unacceptable," said House Minority Leader Eric Cantor.
Regarding reaching a compromise, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said, "I am not as nearly as optimistic and that's an understatement." Speaker of the House John Boehner said, "I think we were closer to a number last night than we are this morning."
CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes asked Reid about the discrepancy in opinions.
"Mr. Leader you say that this is coming down to 'clean air and abortion' while the speaker says 'no it's all about spending cuts.' How can the two of you have such different idea of what's going on in that room?" Cordes asked. "Aren't you in there together?"
"The fact is there are two things holding this up," Reid said. "One dealing with women's health, and another rider dealing with the environmental protection agency."
"So are you saying he's lying?" Cordes asked.
"He can stretch things all he wants but that in fact is the truth," Reid said.
House Republicans raised the pressure Thursday afternoon, passing a bill that would keep the government open for one more week and fund defense for the rest of the fiscal year.
"If you vote against this bill you are voting against the troops," Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said to a mixture of boos and applause.
But Republicans added $12 billion in cuts to the bill and an anti-abortion measure, knowing Democrats would kill the bill in the Senate.
"For them to want to disguise their bad proposal by hiding behind our troops is really a disservice to our troops," said Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
What separates the negotiators at this eleventh hour is roughly $7 billion in cuts - 0.2 percent of the 2011 budget.
Beyond the money, they're haggling over ideology. As Democrats try to strip out dozens of politically charged policy measures, or "riders," that Republicans attached to the spending bill, CBS News asked reporters around the country to explain the most contentious ones.
Mary Bubala from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland : "Republicans want to block about 40 million dollars in funding to clean up this polluted waterway. They also want to roll back EPA limits on mercury, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals in the air and water. Regulations they say stifle economic growth."
Jason DeRusha at Minnesota's busiest emergency room: "One of the sticking points is the President's Health Care law. Republicans want to block its funding - which they consider the next best thing to repeal. Democrats cite the non-partisan Congressional Budget office -saying such a move would actually increase the deficit by $5.7 billion."
Natasha Brown in Philadelphia at a Planned Parenthood Center, one of more than 800 around the country: "Republicans want to cut the $75 million in federal funding Planned Parenthood receives annually because they say it goes to abortions. Democrats say the money goes toward family planning and women's healthcare."
Administration officials preparing for a shutdown warned Thursday that farm loans would be halted, as would mine safety inspections.
Even the national cherry blossom parade in D.C. would be canceled.
Thirteen high-school bands including the Fairhope, Ala., Pirates are headed to D.C. anyway after raising money for two years.
"It's disappointing but when you take trips like this, you got to be ready for anything I guess," said Will Duncan, the Fairhope High School band director.
What members haven't said is whether the hundreds of thousands of federal workers facing furlough would get paid for the time they miss if Congress can't carry out one of its most basic responsibilities - passing a budget - before the deadline.