Corker. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who announced last week that he won't seek re-election in 2018, made a comment to Chuck Todd today that will echo into the coming weeks as Republicans chase their most urgent legislative priority: tax reform.

Corker told the host of NBC's "Meet the Press": "If it looks like to me, Chuck, we're adding one penny to the deficit, I am not going to be for it, OK. I'm sorry. It [national debt] is the greatest threat to our nation..."

Why this matters: Corker will be a pivotal figure in the Senate for the next 15 months, and his vote could be one of a few that decides whether the tax reform bill passes. Plenty of Corker's colleagues would be happy to blow an even bigger hole in the deficit in order to get massive tax cuts, but Corker, who is now a free agent on account of his impending retirement, has laid down a marker. He plans to finish his career as a hardcore deficit hawk.

  • A source close to leadership summed it up this way: "Corker untethered to the electorate is a dangerous Corker."
  • Another senior Republican involved in tax reform told me this after watching the Corker clip: "He's just one vote but McCain voted against the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. So that is two problems." "Plus Collins, Roy Moore, and potentially Rand" could be additional problems. "Math could get tough depending on the score of the bill."

Watch the full Corker interview here.

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In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. It's the third hurricane to hit Louisiana in about two months, after Laura and Delta. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

4 hours ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing" and the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus for the achievement, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China