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Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The House-Senate deal made on Monday on must-pass defense legislation would impose sanctions against companies helping Russia complete the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany.

Why it matters: Critics contend the project will bolster Russia's leverage in Europe plus erode energy security and Ukrainian access to Russian gas.

But, but, but: The Trump administration, which opposes the project, has not imposed sanctions under existing authorities.

  • Last year Trump softened U.S. criticism toward the project, breaking with the years-long State Department posture.

What they're saying: GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said via Twitter late last night that he would work with the administration to "make sure these sanctions are fully implemented and any violators are tracked and duly designated."

  • He worked with Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on the provision.

The intrigue: The project is well under construction, so it's unclear if the bill will prove anything more than symbolic.

  • "In October, Denmark gave its long-delayed permission for the pipeline to be built in its waters, clearing a final hurdle for a project that is more than 80 per cent finished," the Financial Times reports.
  • However, their piece notes that sanctions could slow the development.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

5 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.