NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Republicans are trying to make political hay of the fact that the federal gross debt this week crossed the $16 trillion mark.
But reaching that milestone was expected. And while notable, it overshadows the number that is of more immediate concern to Congress: the amount of debt subject to the legal borrowing limit.
The debt ceiling is currently set at $16.394 trillion. At the end of August, the amount of debt subject to that limit — which excludes certain types of debt — was $15.977 trillion, roughly $417 billion below the cap.
Since the government typically borrows between $100 billion and $125 billion a month, that means it’s on track to hit the ceiling sometime in December.
But the Treasury Department will likely be able to use “extraordinary measures” to keep the debt just below the legal limit for a couple of months.
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