Steve Winberg, who was sworn in just before Thanksgiving as the Energy Department's assistant secretary for fossil energy, on Tuesday deferred to Congress on the Trump administration's big budget cuts to his office and said it's not his job to set climate change policy.

Driving the news: Winberg, whose remarks at an event hosted Tuesday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies were his first on the new job, is in the hot seat because President Trump and his top advisers say they support robust development of technologies that capture carbon emissions from coal plants and other emitting facilities. Much of what happens on this issue will come down to his office, and so far it's not much.

On the budget cuts: "The president made it very clear that he wants DOE to be focused on basic, fundamental research and early stage research … Congress set the budget, and we'll manage the budget accordingly based on what Congress appropriates for us."

Reality check: The office Winberg oversees would receive a 54% budget cut under Trump's proposal, though Congress is expected to keep funding mostly the same.

On whether he thinks climate change is a reason to invest in carbon capture technology: "We are not going to stop using fossil energy any time soon, so if we're going to go on an aggressive path to carbon reduction, [carbon capture] has to be part of the answer." And later to reporters: "I think it's not my job to set policy on climate change. It's my job to develop technologies that might address climate change, but would address a lot of other issues as well."

Reality check: Captured carbon is put to use in other ways, such as to extract oil in certain geological formations, but to really develop the capture technology on a broad, commercial basis, experts who spoke after Winberg agreed there needs to be explicit climate policy.

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Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 30,782,337 — Total deaths: 957,037— Total recoveries: 21,032,539Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,764,962 — Total deaths: 199,258 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19.
  5. World: Guatemalan president tests positive for COVID-19 — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.

The positions of key GOP senators on replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters on Capitol Hill last Thursday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With President Trump planning to nominate his third Supreme Court justice nominee by next week, key Republican senators are indicating their stance on replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just over six weeks out from Election Day.

The big picture: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has vowed that "Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) told Alaska Public Media, "I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

ActBlue collects a record $91 million in hours after Ginsburg's death

A makeshift memorial in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 19. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

ActBlue received a record $91.4 million in the 28 hours following Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, the Democratic donation-processing site confirmed to Axios late Saturday.

Why it matters via the New York Times: "The unprecedented outpouring shows the power of a looming Supreme Court confirmation fight to motivate Democratic donors."