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Reports point to a deal, but the clock's still ticking

Reports are beginning to indicate that negotiators have the basic outlines of a compromise on a long-term funding bill before them.

*** UPDATE 10:50 pm ET: *** A Reid spokesman tweets: "We have an agreement." Details to come...

According to National Journal, a potential deal would include up to $39 billion in spending cuts for the rest of the fiscal year, $514 billion in spending for the Pentagon, and no “riders” involving funding for Planned Parenthood or the Environmental Protection Agency.

But even if there’s a deal on a long-term spending bill tonight, writing legislation to fund the federal government for six months is a complex process – one that’s unlikely to be finalized in the three-and-a-half-or-so hours before the government runs out of authorized funding at midnight tonight.

So how could a shutdown be avoided?

It appears increasingly likely that the House and Senate could pass a three-day or one-week bridge measure that could keep the lights on until the paperwork and voting for a full spending resolution is completed.

Negotiators have made clear that a stopgap bill is contingent on a long-term agreement.

Boehner said late Friday night that he could support a short-term stopgap measure “only if there’s a deal” on a bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

That’s similar – though a step further - than what the White House said yesterday when it said it would veto a one-week continuing resolution with deep cuts and an abortion-related rider.

“If negotiations are making significant progress, the Administration would support a short-term, clean Continuing Resolution to allow for enactment of a final bill,” the White House said in a statement.  President Obama had previously indicated that he would not support any short-term measure.

How’s Speaker Boehner feeling about the possibility of a deal tonight?

“You know me - I was born with a glass half full,” he told CNN.

NBC's Luke Russert contributed to this report.