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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

Dave Lawler, author of World
4 mins ago - World

Israeli ground troops join the fight near Gaza, raising threat of war

Israeli troops prepare to fire shells toward the Gaza Strip. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli ground troops have joined the fight near the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Thursday night.

Driving the news: While tanks and artillery were deployed for the first time on Thursday, there have not yet been reports of a ground invasion of Gaza. But Israel has called up 9,000 reservists and massed at least three brigades on the frontier with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

Updated 30 mins ago - Economy & Business

The states ending federal pandemic unemployment benefits early

Protesters demand senators support the continuation of unemployment benefits on July 16, 2020 in Miami Springs, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than a dozen Republican-led states have announced they are terminating their involvement in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs early.

Driving the news: Many of the states' governors cited worker shortages. But some experts say it's the job climate, including pandemic-era factors, and not unemployment benefits that is determining when and how people return to work.