Jan 7, 2019

Exclusive: Former GOP lawmaker joins Columbia University think tank

Carlos Curbelo. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Carlos Curbelo, the Republican who lost his reelection bid in a highly contested Florida House district last November, is doubling down on his energy and climate change focus with a new fellowship at Columbia University’s energy think tank.

Why he matters: During his four years in Congress, Curbelo was an important outlier in the Republican Party. He created a bipartisan House caucus on climate change and last summer introduced legislation taxing carbon emissions, the first such move by a Republican in a decade.

Details: Curbelo will be a distinguished visiting fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

  • The center, founded by Jason Bordoff, a former top energy advisor to then-President Obama, has ramped up its work on carbon tax policy over the last year, issuing a series of papers on the topic. The group facilitated the event where Curbelo introduced his legislation last summer.
  • The center includes several other fellows, several from the Obama administration but also at least one former Trump adviser: George David Banks, who advised Trump on global energy and climate issues.

The big picture: Congress is unlikely to seriously consider a carbon tax any time soon, given the GOP’s near universal opposition to the idea and Trump’s dismissal of climate change generally. The goal of think tanks like this one is to conduct research that could feed any legislation if/when Congress comes around to the idea politically.

One level deeper: There are 2 broad schools of thought about how to legislate: compromise to find bipartisan solutions or pursue more aggressive policies that don’t have bipartisan support. Curbelo is in the former camp, while the new Congress — girding for a fierce presidential election — is more in the latter. Curbelo hopes to teach students about what he considers to be the need for compromise, the former congressman told me last week.

“A lot of young people think that the answer is to push back harder against the other side regardless of which side they’re on. The real antidote to the social decay we’re witnessing to our country and dysfunctioning policies is to actually compromise, to dialogue, to negotiate. I want to focus, at Columbia, specifically on this major challenge we face as a country and where the viable solutions are. I know that it isn’t at either extreme.”
— Carlos Curbelo

What’s next: Curbelo will have more fellowships related to energy and climate change and will reopen a media and public affairs practice he had in Miami prior to his time in Congress. He’s also going to dive back into politics, sometime. “There will definitely be another political chapter in my life,” Curbelo said. “I have little doubt about that.” He’s not sure when or how exactly yet though.

Go deeper

Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 min ago - Health

Gilead expands access to experimental coronavirus drug in emergency cases

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness in COVID-19 the treatment has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

Go deeperArrow24 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 664,695 — Total deaths: 30,847 — Total recoveries: 140,156.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 124,464 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.