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Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday challenged his Democratic competitor, Amy McGrath, to a "socially distanced, Lincoln-Douglas style debate" with "no notes at the table, no props and no audience."

Why it matters: McConnell has held a steady lead over McGrath in most polling for the race, adding a layer of intrigue over his request.

  • McConnell is a fundraising giant, and most prognosticators believe he'll hold onto his seat in November.
  • Cook Political Report rates the race as "likely Republican," and the latest Quinnipiac poll showed McConnell ahead by 5 points.

What he's saying: McConnell argued, "While the coronavirus campaign has changed how we campaign in 2020, it is my view that any plans to hold in-person debates between the two of us should not be impacted."

  • "Before casting their ballots this November, Kentuckians deserve the opportunity to compare us side-by-side as we share our competing visions for Kentucky's long-term prosperity."

The big picture: Debates without an audience look set to be the norm amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders did a trial run of this method in March with a head-to-head debate in a television studio near the tail end of their Democratic primary battle.

Go deeper

McConnell defends Trump's refusal to concede to Biden

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) celebrated Republicans' congressional victories and defended President Trump's refusal to concede to Joe Biden, saying on the Senate floor Monday that Trump has "every right to look into allegations and request recounts."

The state of play: As of Monday afternoon, only four Republican senators — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) — had congratulated Biden on his projected victory.

56 mins ago - Health

U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines

A health care worker administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Ruleville, Mississippi. Photo: Rory Doyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. is now vaccinating an average of 2 million people a day, up from 1.3 million in early February.

Why it matters: That puts us on track to hit President Biden's goal of 100 million doses a month ahead of schedule.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, a procedural move that will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate.

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