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Master of the Senate

by Robert Costa

Mitch McConnell gets the job done

Mitch McConnell would not smile. The rest of the crowd, full of big-name Democrats and liberal activists, nodded and cracked grins as Vice President Joe Biden quoted Edmund Burke, the famed Anglo-Irish statesman, on the nature of compromise. But McConnell, the purse-lipped Senate GOP leader, remained still, unmoved by Biden’s invocation of a favorite conservative philosopher.

Days before, Biden and McConnell had crafted an agreement to extend Bush-era tax rates for two years. Now, on a frigid December afternoon, the pair was standing on a dais in the first-floor auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. As Biden playfully cited Burke, McConnell wondered why the White House seemed so keen to celebrate the deal, along with the rest of their lame-duck maneuvers.

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