Mr. McConnell said that he insisted the newly passed legislation preserve Treasury’s ability to apply “extraordinary measures” and shift money within government accounts to pay off debt and extend federal borrowing power.
That will delay the need for another increase in the debt limit well beyond the December deadline that Democrats have been trumpeting as their big moment of leverage.
.. In fact, Mr. McConnell said, the debt limit will not have to be increased until well into 2018, taking that volatile subject off the table for the December spending talks, and eliminating the Democrats’ most dangerous bargaining chip in the first round of negotiations.
.. “One of the advantages of being the majority leader is you control the paper,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to legislation. “I wrote it in such a way that it does not prevent what is frequently done, which is the use of extraordinary measures. The minority leader and his team were trying to get us not to write it that way, but I did write it that way and that is the way it passed.”
.. Under the scenario Mr. McConnell sketched out, the December talks will now focus on hurricane relief and other budgetary matters and the administration can tell Democrats “see you next year on the debt ceiling.”
.. “I think I can safely say the debt ceiling and the spending issue in December will be decoupled because the debt ceiling will not come up until sometime in 2018,” he said.