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Chuck Kennedy / Axios

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Axios' Mike Allen that he "would not expect to see" welfare reform on the agenda in 2018.

Why this matters: The Treasury admitted last week that the tax bill only pays for itself if welfare reform is also done. If McConnell doesn't want to do welfare reform in the upper chamber — a politically risky endeavor, to say the least — it's not happening, no matter how badly Speaker Paul Ryan, who has said he'd like to use reconciliation to take these on in 2018, wants it.

Other highlights from the Axios event:

  • Fixing the tax bill: McConnell didn't dispute that there may need to be some kind of fix to the tax bill, saying that it's normal to need one on legislation this size. "I wouldn't be surprised" if it needs a small fix, "but I think the core of the bill is intact."
  • What's next: "We have to have Democratic involvement. So things like infrastructure...to do something in that area we're going to have to have Democratic participation."
  • On 2018: "If I were running the campaign…I'd have that single woman saying, Sen. [Joe] Manchin, maybe $1,300 isn't much to you, but it is to me... We're prepared to make this argument to the American people, this was a significant middle class tax cut, but also it was important to get the country growing again."
  • On Steve Bannon: McConnell said he oppose candidates "who have no chance to win," like those floated by Steve Bannon. When pressed by Mike Allen, McConnell said he had "nothing to say" and "no observations" about Bannon. McConnell added that in order to make a difference in an election, "you have to run a candidate who can win." He said that Republicans will win out over outside forces and candidates by opposing them as they did 2014 and 2016.

Go deeper

Court rejects Trump campaign's appeal in Pennsylvania case

Photo: Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday unanimously rejected the Trump campaign's emergency appeal seeking to file a new lawsuit against Pennsylvania's election results, writing in a blistering ruling that the campaign's "claims have no merit."

Why it matters: It's another devastating blow to President Trump's sinking efforts to overturn the results of the election. Pennsylvania, which President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes, certified its results last week and is expected to award 20 electoral votes to Biden on Dec. 12.

Dave Lawler, author of World
43 mins ago - World

Belarus dictator Lukashenko says he'll leave post after new constitution

Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty

Longtime Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution comes into force, according to Belarusian state media.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has faced three months of protests following a rigged election in August. He has promised to reform the constitution to reduce the near-absolute powers of the president, but has insisted that his strong hand is needed to see that process through.

3 hours ago - World

Iran confirms assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadhe

The Iranian ministry of defense issued a statement on Friday confirming the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadhe, an Iranian scientist and the architect behind the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Fakhrizadhe was the head of the Amad project in the Iranian ministry of defense, which focused on developing a nuclear bomb until 2003.