House Republicans booed and jeered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney last Friday as they tried to convince them to pass a bill pairing hurricane relief with a three-month raising of the debt ceiling, a deal worked out by Democratic leaders and endorsed by President Trump. (The bill passed, with 90 Republicans voting against it.) On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said the Democrats had "spiked the ball in the end zone a little too early" on the debt deal.
McConnell told The New York Times that he had written the debt ceiling language in a way that will allow the Treasury Department to take "extraordinary measures" to avoid a federal default, meaning that Congress "almost certainly" won't "have another debt ceiling discussion until well into 2018." He added that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had been aware of what McConnell was doing and tried to stop him, "but I did write it that way and that is the way it passed."
Democrats, who had hoped to use their leverage to wrest concessions from the debt ceiling vote, did not seem overly perturbed by McConnell's craftiness, notes Carl Hulse at The New York Times. "They said Republicans would still likely need Democratic votes for both the spending bill to come as well as the debt limit hike" in order to avoid a government shutdown and default. But McConnell, "clearly irked by the perception that he got rolled by Democrats," appeared eager to "quell talk that the Republicans got taken," Hulse said. "Whether or not they did will be determined in the coming months." Peter Weber