WASHINGTON - A top White House official says "we don't have a deal" between President Obama and Republicans in Congress to avoid a crippling default.
But senior White House adviser David Plouffe tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that both sides are generally in agreement on an emerging package that would cut the deficit in two stages, with key details still being worked out.
Plouffe suggests that negotiations are still focused on how to compel Congress to approve a deficit-cutting plan of tax and entitlement reform later this year.
Mr. Obama is adamant that the nation's debt limit be extended into 2013 without being tied to that vote. Republicans want the debt limit to be the "trigger" to force Congress to act.
After weeks of strident partisan conflict, CBS News has learned the two sides were discussing an accord that would raise the government's borrowing authority in two steps by about $3 trillion and cut federal spending by slightly more, according to knowledgeable officials.
The plan was described to CBS News as being similar to House Speaker John Boehner's plan approved along party lines in the lower chamber Friday night and quickly rejected in the Democratic-held Senate, with a modified trigger of spending cuts if a proposed joint committee negotiating the cuts deadlocks.
Congress would also have to vote on a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, a top-flight GOP goal. Unlike the bill approved Friday by the Republican-run House, none of the debt limit increase would be tied to congressional approval of that amendment.