Jan 16, 2019

Andrew Wheeler's confirmation hearing could be a 2020 practice round

Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler will appear before the Senate's environment panel this morning as lawmakers vet his nomination to formally get the job. But he might not be the only one trying out.

What we're watching: The hearing will be a high-profile chance for lawmakers to grill the EPA boss on controversial policies, like the proposal to replace Obama-era climate rules.

  • Also of interest, though, is that several Democrats in the early 2020 White House mix sit on the Environment and Public Works Committee.
  • If they show up, the hearing could provide a window onto how they're positioning themselves on climate and the environment.

Senators running in or weighing the race, who are on the panel, include Kirsten Gillibrand (who began her campaign yesterday), Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Jeff Merkley, though he's a longshot.

Why it matters: This committee could become the panel to watch, especially if more of its members follow Gillibrand into the race.

  • Aides for Gillibrand, Sanders and Booker did not respond to inquiries about whether their bosses will be there.
  • A Merkley aide confirmed his attendance.

Go deeper: 2020 presidential election: Track which candidates are running (Axios)

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Coronavirus could hit developing countries hardest

Disinfecting in Dakar, Senegal. Photo: John Wessels/AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus is spreading most widely in countries that should be among the best equipped to handle it. There's no reason to expect that to remain the case.

Where things stand: 88% of new coronavirus cases confirmed on Wednesday came within the OECD club of wealthy nations, which together account for just 17% of the world's population. While that data is based on uneven and inadequate testing, Europe and North America are clearly in the eye of the storm.

The Humanity First push for a coronavirus vaccine

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Policy responses to the global coronavirus crisis have been every-country-for-itself and — in the case of the U.S. and China — tinged with geopolitics.

The flipside: The scientific work underway to understand the virus and develop a vaccine has been globalized on an unprecedented scale.

Go deeperArrow9 mins ago - World

Trump attacks Schumer for impeachment in letter about coronavirus crisis

President Trump briefs reports on April 2. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of being "missing in action" during the coronavirus crisis, writing in a scathing letter on Thursday that Schumer's focus on the "ridiculous impeachment hoax" resulted in New York being ill-prepared for the pandemic.

Why it matters: It's a blistering response to Schumer urging Trump to assign a senior military officer to enforce the Defense Production Act to produce more medical supplies.