From NBC's Ken Strickland
The Senate is in the final hours of debating its version of the budget. At about 11:30 a.m., there will be a series of back-to-back votes leading up to final passage. The "vote-o-rama," as it's called around the Hill, could be as many as 30 votes.
Democratic leaders hope to wrap it up today, with final passage coming late in the evening.
Today, a handful of Republican senators are offering their own budget proposal. The group is led by John McCain and includes Hutchison, Graham and Coburn. While it's not the "official" GOP substitute -- there isn't one -- it will likely draw significant Republican support, but not likely enough to pass.
And finally at the end of the night, when the Democratic budget is passed, the stage is set for a new fight. The Senate version will have to be will have to be married to the House version; and that new version will have to be passed anew by both chambers.
Because Congress starts a two-week vacation next week, any drama involving merging the two bills would likely unfold at the staff level behind closed doors. We'll see if the new bill that emerges includes the highly anticipated, complicated procedure known as "reconciliation."