Mike Allen closed out 2017 with back-to-back News Shapers events in DC. Today's featured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Mark Warner. They discussed Russian election interference, tax reform, what's next, and what's not.
Why it mattered: Now that the Republicans' sweeping tax bill has passed both chambers of Congress, President Trump is expected to sign it into law on Jan. 3. Meanwhile, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation continues at full force.
See you in 2018!
Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday night he will lead a delegation to Taiwan "in the coming days."
Why it matters: It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979. Azar is also the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit the island state in six years. The visit has angered China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory. Chinese officials accused the U.S. early Wednesday of "endangering peace" with the visit, AFP reports.
A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.
Driving the news: At least 100 people have been killed and over 4,000 injured in the blast — and the death toll is likely to rise, the Lebanese Red Cross said, per AP. Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for the past six years.