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Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday released the first-ever U.S. government strategy for countering corruption, kicking off a week of policy initiatives pegged to the inaugural "Summit for Democracy" on Dec. 9-10.

Why it matters: Joe Biden is the first president to establish the fight against corruption as a core national security interest. Critics say corruption not only robs a nation of its core resources but discourages citizens from believing in the rule of law.

Driving the news: The U.S. government will vastly increase the intelligence and diplomatic resources devoted to countering corruption, described as a transnational threat damaging public trust, deepening inequality and undermining democracy.

  • The strategy calls for the creation of senior anti-corruption positions and coordinating bodies within the State Department, Treasury Department, Commerce Department and USAID.
  • Federal agencies will be directed to improve "corruption-related risk analysis" when considering foreign aid and security assistance, especially in countries with a significant record of corruption.
  • The strategy commits the U.S. to deepening cooperation with foreign partners who have shown the political will to fight corruption, and also to strengthening support for activists and investigative journalists exposing corruption on the ground.

In an effort to reduce the ability of corrupt actors to exploit the U.S. financial system, the Treasury Department will solicit public comment on a potential rule to address the vulnerability of the U.S. real estate market to money laundering.

  • Officials hope this feedback will lead to new regulations cracking down on corrupt activity while minimizing the overall burden on the real estate industry.

The big picture: 110 governments have been invited to the virtual Summit for Democracy, a major Biden initiative that's sparked heated debate — and backlash from Russia and China — over how the U.S. is evaluating democratic governance.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported last week the administration will encourage participants to join the U.S. in sanctioning foreign officials and actors engaged in "corruption, repression, organized crime and serious human-rights abuse."
  • Biden also will launch an initiative to establish a "code of conduct" for limiting the export of surveillance technologies exploited by authoritarian regimes, according to the Journal.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden backs filibuster changes to pass voting rights bill

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday threw his support behind changing the Senate's filibuster rules in an effort to pass voting rights legislation.

Driving the news: "I believe the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass the voting rights bill, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail," Biden said in a major speech in Atlanta. "And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rule, including getting rid of the filibuster for this."

FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly COVID antibody treatments

A coldbox containing monoclonal antibody treatments at a Regeneron clinic in Pembroke Pines, Florida, in August. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The FDA said Monday it's limiting the use of two monoclonal antibody therapies as COVID-19 treatments because data indicates they're "highly unlikely" to be effective against the dominant Omicron variant.

Driving the news: The FDA revised the authorizations for Regeneron and Eli Lilly "to limit their use to only when the patient is likely to have been infected with or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments," per a statement from the agency.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.