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President Trump with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: AP

We've learned that after months of frosty distance, President Trump picked up the phone yesterday and called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — ahead of a week when they absolutely have to work together on a budget, or risk losing tax reform.

Why it matters: Well-wired Republicans privately think chances for tax cuts are still pretty bleak. If Trump and McConnell are able to patch things up even temporarily, Republicans have a better chance at avoiding an embarrassing legislative shutout that could imperil their majorities.

  • The stakes: They need to get a budget done in the Senate this week. No budget, no tax reform. It's that simple.
  • Jonathan Swan hears that the two had a productive conversation on the agenda, and bonded over their joint effort to nominate and confirm conservative judges across the country.
  • Trump was upbeat and brought up a Kim Strassell column in The Wall Street Journal, "Scalias all the way down," giving the president credit for "remaking the federal judiciary."

I'm told the two speak behind the scenes more frequently than is leaked, with judges and tax reform as regular topics:

  • They also are said to trade intel such as whip counts.
  • That makes Trump's public and private slaps at McConnell seem even more bizarre, although it fits with the reality that much of what this president says is for show.
  • The two will have lunch at the White House tomorrow.

Be smart: This is a truce that both sides need — not a thaw, or a change in how they view each other. You can count on Trump to attack McConnell on Twitter again soon, and keep courting "Chuck and Nancy."

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Go deeper

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

U.S. Chamber decides against political ban for Capitol insurrection

A pedestrian passes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters as it undergoes renovation. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won't withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why it matters: The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

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