Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Two U.S. senators are urging the Federal Transit Authority to clarify a ban on Chinese rail manufacturers and to warn local transit authorities of potential national security threats from China, in a letter obtained by Axios.

The big picture: The ban highlights a growing expansion of national security risks to include economic security, as the U.S. responds to Chinese government economic policies that many perceive as exploitative.

Details: Dated Feb. 13 and addressed to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the letter from Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) cites confusion about the ban and urges the FTA to provide information to U.S. localities explaining the details behind the new policy.

  • The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision that prohibits local U.S. transit authorities from using federal grant money to purchase buses and passenger rail cars from state-owned or state-controlled Chinese companies.
  • The provision means Chinese rail manufacturing giants CRRC and BYD will be blocked from the U.S. market beginning in 2022, when the ban will take effect. (It already applies to the Washington, D.C. metro).

Between the lines: The lawmakers blend economic security with national security, casting Chinese government subsidies as part of an intentional strategy to achieve global geopolitical primacy.

  • Beijing is known to offer massive subsidies to certain Chinese national champions, such as Huawei, allowing them to systematically underbid competition in countries around the world and thus establish themselves as global leaders.
  • Both CRRC and BYD have benefited from preferential Chinese government policies. CRRC, which is owned by the Chinese government, is now the world's largest rail car maker.
  • Claims that Chinese-made rail cars could potentially pose a cybersecurity risk have elicited some degree of skepticism, since the claims are based not on events that are known to have happened, but rather an estimation of Chinese capabilities.

What they're saying: "The Chinese government has a history of using state subsidies and predatory corporate practices to achieve market dominance in a variety of economic sectors across the globe," the lawmakers wrote.

  • "Since implementation of its 'Made in China 2025' initiative, the Chinese government has identified U.S. rail and bus manufacturing as priority targets for sector dominance."
  • The lawmakers also stated that "different interpretations" of the law were causing confusion and asked the FTA to clarify the law to local transit authorities.

U.S. industry groups have supported the ban.

  • "We are not against foreign companies being involved in either freight or passenger rail. It’s the difference between a market-based company and a state-owned enterprise that does not abide by normal market rules," said Erik Olson, executive vice president of the Rail Security Alliance, a trade group that advocates on issues of transportation and security, in a statement provided to Axios.

Go deeper

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks

Photo: Filip Filipovic/Getty Images

People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can take fewer precautions in certain situations, including socializing indoors without masks when in the company of low-risk or other vaccinated individuals, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Monday.

Why it matters: The report cites early evidence that suggests vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection, and are potentially less likely to transmit the virus to other people. At the time of its publication, the CDC said the guidance would apply to about 10% of Americans.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
47 mins ago - Economy & Business

Ripple CEO calls for clearer crypto regulations following SEC lawsuit

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by the SEC, it would put the U.S. cryptocurrency industry at a competitive disadvantage.

Why it matters: Garlinghouse's comments may seem self-serving, but his call for clearer crypto rules is consistent with longstanding entreaties from other industry players.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt will not seek re-election in 2022

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), widely seen as a member of the Republican establishment in Congress, will not run for re-election in 2022, he announced on Twitter Monday.

Why it matters: The 71-year-old senator is the No. 4-ranking Republican in the Senate, and the fifth GOP senator to announce he will not run for re-election in 2022 as the party faces questions about its post-Trump future.