Federal staffers were caught off guard Thursday by the abrupt departure of David Redl, the Trump appointee running the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Commerce Department's telecom policy shop.

Why it matters: Officials are under intense pressure to make more airwaves available for the private sector to build 5G networks. Divvying up government airwaves amid the "race" to beat China has led to spats between agencies.

The intrigue: In an email to colleagues, Redl said it was with "a heavy heart" that he announced his resignation. Three sources familiar with the situation said his departure comes after disagreements about 5G policies.

  • Redl and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai were at odds over the auction of millimeter-wave spectrum due to NOAA and NASA concerns about possible interference with sensors used for weather data collection. (Politico reported details last month.)
  • Internally, there was friction between Redl and Earl Comstock, deputy chief of staff to Secretary Wilbur Ross, as well as tensions surrounding the administration's 5G announcement last month, two sources said. (NTIA declined to comment.)

What's next: Diane Rinaldo is now the acting NTIA administrator.

Go deeper: Read Axios' deep dive on the 5G future.

Go deeper

Trump signs bill to prevent government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and President Trump arrives at the U.S. Capitol in March. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump signed a bill to extend current levels of government funding after funding expired briefly, White House spokesperson Judd Deere confirmed early Thursday.

Why it matters: The move averts a government shutdown before the Nov. 3 election. The Senate on Wednesday passed the legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Of note: While the previous measure lapse before Trump signed the bill, the Office of Management and Budget had instructed federal agencies "to not engage in orderly shutdown activities," a senior administration official told the New York Times, because of the OMB was confident the president would sign the measure on Thursday.

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Updated 39 mins ago - Science

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1700 firefighters are battling 26 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 39 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 33,880,896 — Total deaths: 1,012,964 — Total recoveries: 23,551,663Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,232,823 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.