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Column: The real winner from the House fight? Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s indispensable man

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The television split screen told the story.

On one side, Republicans in the House of Representatives labored through the fourth of the 15 ballots they needed during four days of gridlock to choose Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

On the other side, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stood beaming with President Biden as they congratulated each other for a bipartisan success: a $1.6-billion deal to replace a crumbling highway bridge across the Ohio River.

On one side, partisan dysfunction. On the other, an old-fashioned deal.

Biden seized the moment to ladle compliments on his longtime sparring partner — and to drive home a lesson.

“We disagree on a lot of things,” he said of McConnell (R-Ky.). “But here’s what matters: He’s a man of his word. … I believe it sends an important message to the entire country: We can work together. We can get things done.”

McConnell wasn’t daring enough to praise Biden, but on the larger issue he responded in kind.

“These are really partisan times,” he said. “But I always feel no matter who gets elected, once it’s all over we ought to look for things we can agree on.”

If there was a winner in the brawl on…

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