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Blake Farenthold. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Blake Farenthold is refusing to pay for Texas' special election, the Houston Chronicle reports, saying in a letter that he "didn't call it" and doesn't "think it's necessary."

The details: Texas Governor Greg Abbott requested that the former Republican congressman pay $200,000 towards the election after Farenthold resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal. Per the Chronicle, Farenthold defended himself in the letter, saying he never "engaged in physical harassment of a sexual nature," but ran "a more informal office than some people have have expected."

The response: Abbott's deputy communications director Ciara Matthews told the Chronicle: "[I]t's not surprising that his last act would be to stick taxpayers with the bill at the worst possible time. While Mr. Farenthold may consider this resolved, we're not closing the case on this issue."

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
52 mins ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.