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Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen interviews National Eocnomic Director Larry Kudlow. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

In the midst of Infrastructure Week, a stacked line up of news shapers joined Mike Allen to discuss infrastructure policy and the news of the day.

Why it mattered: We heard from both sides of the aisle on how to fix our country's infrastructure, as well as Larry Kudlow's view on the looming trade war with China: "Blame China, not Trump."

The news shapers:

  • T.H. Larry Kudlow, Director, National Economic Council, The White House.
  • T.H. James Inhofe, U.S. Senator, Oklahoma. Chairman, Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
  • T.H. Eleanor Holmes Norton, U.S. Representative, District of Columbia. Ranking Member, House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
  • T.H. Steve Adler, Mayor, Austin, Texas. Vice Chair, U.S. Conference of Mayors Subcommittee on Highways.
  • Mr. Steven Brill, Author, Tailspin.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

On the infrastructure bill:

Dead vs. alive: Senator Inhofe says the infrastructure bill is "not dead on arrival. We're actively working on it right now."

Tomorrow vs. never: Mayor Adler says he'd "rather [an infrastructure bill] happen tomorrow than not happen at all."

Old vs. new: Typically, infrastructure funding is raised by implementing a gas tax, but Rep. Holmes Norton says "we may have to look for a new way to fund our infrastructure" due to Republicans resistance this time around.

Senator James Inhofe and Mike Allen. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios
Even the most far-left Democrats and the most far-right Republicans all agree on the need to improve our roads and ports.
— Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
NEC Director Larry Kudlow and Mike Allen.

Takeaways from NEC Director Larry Kudlow

On China:

  • "I don't believe [the President] wants a trade war [with China]. I don't want a trade war."
  • "I believe trade deals are good things, but, China has to reform its system. They've been behaving like a third-world country."
  • 🌈➡️💰: "If you can get through this process, with China [...] then, at the end of that rainbow you're going to have economic growth."

Why it matters: Kudlow is pushing for China to lower its trade barriers in the wake of Trump's announced tariffs on Chinese products that signaled a potential trade war.

On NAFTA:

  • On getting a better deal: there's a "51-49" chance.

Why it matters: President Trump has walked back from his original threat to pull out of NAFTA entirely. His adminisitatrion is now working to cut a better deal in the U.S.'s favor but the odds aren't great, according to Kudlow.

Go deeper: Larry Kudlow puts faith in Trump-Xi "bromance"

Thank you to Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.