>>> you some of the drama and begin with the bottom line. there may be a vote in the house of representatives tonight as part of the effort to fix the debt ceiling. but it probably won't fix anything, if anything, it may prove that the speaker of the house has the votes to deliver his own party. insiders are telling nbc news it may still be days yet until this titanic struggle is over until some sort of solution is reached in what has become such an ugly partisan battle to stop what most fear would be an economic disaster. and none of what's happening in d.c. tonight is doing anything to lessen the anger across the country. to help us lay out what's happening in washington at this hour, we begin once again tonight with nbc's kelly o'donnell on capitol hill. kelly, can we call these show votes tonight? because they're really not going to result in a solution right yet?
>> reporter: well, they're certainly very important to get on the record, and speaker boehner is having a tough time now. we expect within 15 minutes of the scheduled time of the vote it would go forward, but republican leadership abruptly pulled it back, switched to the business of naming post offices. they don't have the votes. some of the republican members who were publicly on record as a no were called to the speaker's office. do you have the votes?
>> reporter: the house speaker's job is not chief vote counter. but today john boehner led a private and public get out the vote measure.
>> let's end this crisis.
>> reporter: boehner met one-on-one with undecided republicans. while nancy pelosi campaigned to keep democrats from making the difference.
>> i feel confident if they're going to have 217 votes, whatever it is, they're going to have to be republican votes.
>> reporter: one of those republicans turned out to be mike pence.
>> i announced this morning that i would support the boehner planning and i believe it's an opportunity -- i think we have an opportunity today to make progress on fiscal discipline.
>> reporter: boehner's plan would cut spending $917 billion over ten years and raise the country's debt ceiling in two installme installments, that would mean another debt limit vote within months. some republican freshman from the tea party class switched from uneasy to on board.
>> is this as big as we wanted to go? heck no. we wanted to go bigger. we ran on going bigger. this is the only proposal on the table that accomplishes the goals we set out to do.
>> reporter: arm twisting failed to persuade some conservatives.
>> i know there are people in my party that want to keep beating up on me, because i can't vote for a bill that only cuts $1 trillion.
>> reporter: ready to blunt any perceived boehner momentum, senate democrats came out hours early to declare that option dead.
>> it will be defeated. they know that, the american people now should understand that clearly.
>> reporter: what we know at this point, speaker boehner seems to be a handful of votes short. one of the men just came out of the speaker's office says he's still a no, no matter how bruised and bloodied he was after the meeting. several who made that visit to the principal's office are still a no. only a couple of them wouldn't tell us where they are right now.
>> chuck todd to the conversation. chuck, you were given indications we may be talking days at this point?
>> reporter: that's right, regardless of what happens, what's going on now is a game of leverage. if the boehner bill gets through the house, republicans have the leverage to control the final part of the negotiations. senator mcconnell the republican minority leader has guaranteed that, he has boehner's back on this, and will work hard to try to jam this through as long as possible and stretch out the senate debate. if it doesn't, all the leverage shifts to harry reid and the democrats and the white house. when you step back, they're not that far apart from getting some deal. the sticking point is still this idea of having another debt ceiling vote. if they can figure out a way to get that part of this, you'll have a whole bunch of democrats helping speaker boehner getting a version of this plan through. as long as that second ask on the debt ceiling is there, democrats are hardening in their position on this as well.
>> let's take chuck's point, let's step back away from all of this. do they have the votes? then it goes to the senate, where it's planned to die. is there a reflection? is there an acknowledgement on the hill of the anger from coast to coast in this country over what's going on and how it looks?
>> reporter: oh, very definitely. a lot of members are saying to us, those who want to see this resolved quickly, and utter frustration that they think some just don't get it. among those strident nos, they are telling us they believe they were sent here with a message, and who cares what the establishment says, they want to stick to their guns and that's where the danger is. there isn't the old kind of method where leadership could knock some heads and get people to fall in line so easily. that's the real dynamic of stress that's putting speaker boehner in a hot seat and may cause leader reid some tough times too.
>> reporter: if this fails in the house, you may see a deal come together faster.
>> all right. you washington types -- kelly o'donnell and chuck todd, two different spots across town in washington tonight with