Senate Democrats explained quite a while ago that the “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act,” the patently absurd House GOP budget plan, had no chance of passing the upper chamber. But House Republicans needed to get this out of their system, and test to see just how far they could get with this ridiculous measure.

The GOP got its answer this morning.

The Senate on Friday rejected a House plan to substantially cut government spending and raise the federal debt limit contingent on a balanced budget proposal, leaving Congress up in the air about how to resolve its impasse over the federal debt ceiling and avoid a government default.

It wasn’t a straight up-or-down vote on the House plan itself, but rather, a vote on whether to table the GOP bill. The final tally was 51 to 46, with exactly zero members crossing party lines. Some Republicans tried to put a positive spin on the five-vote margin, but no one should be fooled — CC&B would need 14 additional votes to break a filibuster and 21 additional votes to approve a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.

This little right-wing fantasy, in other words, is finished, at least for this Congress.

Now what? The plan was to get the ball rolling in the Senate with the McConnell/Reid back-up plan. That’s apparently not going to happen — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this morning that he would simply wait to see the results of the negotiations between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. Whereas Reid expected the Senate to work all weekend to advance the emergency “Plan B” fall-back option, those plans have been scrapped, too — the Senate, like the House, will take the weekend off, and hope for the best.

“The path to avert default now runs through the House of Representatives,” Reid said.

If those words strike you as ominous, you and I are on the same page.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.