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Edward Holub

Hap-py Friday from the Big Easy. As part of our effort to get you beyond the bubble thinking and make you aware of the most important trends and innovations, Axios is partnering with the U.S. Conference of Mayors for the next year. I'll be traveling the country, and sharing what I'm learning.

At a time when people hate politicians, many top mayors are popular. At dinner last night at the U.S. Conference of Mayors summer leadership conference in New Orleans, I realized a big reason why:

  • Faced with persistent problems, they have no choice but to attack a lot of things a dysfunctional federal government can't or won't.
  • This includes global warming, homeland security and the exploding opioid crisis — three things better attacked broadly at the federal level.
  • Some of the nation's leading mayors told me that they're giving up on Washington for many of their needs. This has forced new creativity, often turning to philanthropies and big corporations, to help fund their plans.

Some insights from New Orleans:

  • New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, president of the U.S. Conference: "Mayors ... can actually create national policy, and you do not have to wait on the federal government. ... If one of your friends doesn't show up, you just gotta keep going. And I think that's what mayors and governors are doing."
  • Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin, the group's vice president: Getting things done "requires we drag our federal officials" along. He said that while frustrated with D.C., he can't give up because so many constituents depend on federal help.
  • Benjamin also said local officials need more of "a seat at the table" in Trump's opioid response.

Go deeper ... Axios' Shannon Vavra is also on-scene with the mayors, and posted on ...

  • My conversation with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.
  • Plus a debate on "The Future of Cities" with Marc Morial of the National Urban League; Jim Anderson of Bloomberg Philanthropies; and Peter Scher, chair of the Washington region and Head of Corporate Responsibility for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.

Bush labels Clyburn the “savior” for Democrats

House Majority Whip James Clyburn takes a selfie Wednesday with former President George W. Bush. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush credited Rep. James Clyburn with being the "savior" of the Democratic Party, telling the South Carolinian at Wednesday's inauguration his endorsement allowed Joe Biden to win the party's presidential nomination.

Why it matters: The nation's last two-term Republican president also said Clyburn's nod allowed for the transfer of power, because he felt only Biden had the ability to unseat President Trump.

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