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Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor in July. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is muscling out President Trump as the dominant day-to-day Republican powerbroker on Capitol Hill. 

Why it matters: Trump’s power persists, and will live on post-presidency. But McConnell — in his cunningly quiet but methodical way — is flexing his authority. It's a taste of a tension that will help define the next four years.

With President Trump offstage and in denial, McConnell conferred the Republican Party's validation of Joe Biden as president-elect, declaring on the Senate floor yesterday: "The Electoral College has spoken. So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden."

  • Biden called to thank the Kentucky gentleman for the remarks, and told reporters: "There are things we can work together on. ... I'm looking forward to working with him."

A year-end coronavirus deal is alive — because McConnell says it is. McConnell said Tuesday: "We're not leaving here without a COVID package."

In his party's most consequential turning of the page, McConnell yesterday privately warned GOP senators not to join Trump’s extended assault on the Electoral College results.

  • McConnell said on a caucus call that any shenanigans on Jan. 6, when Congress will confirm the result in a joint session, would yield a “terrible vote” for Republicans.
  • In a real change of tune for the party, McConnell insisted there's "zero sentiment" for an objection.

What's next: Whether Republicans keep the Senate majority or not, McConnell will be the party's last word on what lives and dies from Biden's Hill agenda.

  • "He is the obstacle to — and facilitator of — progress," a longtime McConnell associate told Axios.

The bottom line: Remember that McConnell called his autobiography "The Long Game."

  • He played it, and won. We're about to see an epic next round.
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Go deeper

Ronna McDaniel says RNC would stay "neutral" in primaries if Trump ran in 2024

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told the AP on Wednesday that if former President Trump runs again in 2024, the GOP will remain "neutral" during the primary season.

Why it matters: McDaniel has been staunchly supportive of the former president, who endorsed her to keep running the RNC. She now must focus on regaining majorities in Congress, especially as the Republican party reckons with what the GOP looks like after Trump, even as he remains hugely popular with his base.

Del Rio bridge camp empty following Haitian migrant surge

A boy bathes himself in a jug of water inside a migrant camp at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sept. 21 in Del Rio, Texas. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The last migrants camping under the Del Rio International Bridge, which connects Texas and Mexico, departed on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during a White House press briefing.

Driving the news: Thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, had arrived to the makeshift camp after crossing the southern border seeking asylum. Roughly 1,800 migrants will now head to U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing centers.

White House says it expects federal contractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House said in new guidance Friday that it expects millions of federal contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8.

Why it matters: Companies with federal contractors have been waiting for formal guidance from the White House before requiring those employees to get vaccinated, according to Reuters.