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Cornyn and Feinstein. Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call

A new version of a foreign investment oversight bill championed by Sens. John Cornyn and Dianne Feinstein allows certain countries that are "strategic partners" of the U.S. to be exempt from review, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Why it matters: The changes show effort to alleviate concerns of American companies that feared the original bill's reach was too broad and would hurt business.

The backdrop: The legislation focuses on updating The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which has been taking a more aggressive approach to proposed mergers between U.S. and Chinese tech companies.

U.S. companies worried that some of the bill's original language was too vague, particularly in terms of what types of technologies and transactions would receive CFIUS scrutiny.

The details: Axios has learned will be three new changes to the bill.

  1. Define terms like “ordinary business transaction,” “associated support,” and “foreign person” to give the industry more certainty as to what transactions will be reviewed.
  2. Exempt reviews of transactions that are already covered by the export control board.
  3. Include "strategic partners" — countries beyond just treaty allies — on a "safe list" that exempts certain transactions from review.

What this means: The changes appear to let companies avoid CFIUS scrutiny on transactions like overseas equipment and license sales, but still do not address how CFIUS would define "critical technologies" or "critical infrastructure."

Go deeper

Inside Patch's new local newsletter platform

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Patch, the hyperlocal (and profitable) local digital news company, has built a new software platform called "Patch Labs" that lets local news reporters publish their own newsletters and websites, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: It follows a growing trend of journalists going solo via newsletters at the national level.

Scoop: Politico stars plot new Playbook

Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three of Politico’s biggest reporting stars plan to launch a competitor to the company’s Politico Playbook franchise, sources tell me. 

Why it matters:  Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan will launch a daily newsletter in 2021 as a stand-alone company, the sources say. In effect, they will be competing against the Playbook franchise they helped create and grow. 

Ben Geman, author of Generate
28 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Big Oil's big reckoning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There doesn't seem to be an oil major that's got it all figured out between the pandemic, cloudy demand and price outlooks, and the unknown path through a world getting a bit more serious about climate.

Driving the news: ExxonMobil yesterday afternoon showed the latest signs of its struggle to position itself as it announced large write-offs and a big rethink of long-term spending.

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