Dec 28, 2017

In NYT op-ed, Tillerson touts first year's accomplishments

Sec. of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Sait Serkan Gurbuz / AP

In a New York Times op-ed published in Thursday's paper, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson touted the U.S. foreign policy initiatives he spearheaded during this first year. He pointed to the new caps on trade the U.N. and allies imposed on North Korea, the rebuilding of diplomatic ties in the Middle East and the country supporting the Ukrainian government amid aggression from pro-Russian separatists.

Why it matters: The country's top diplomat had a very bumpy year.

He and President Trump had clashed on a range of issues including the Iran nuclear deal, Qatar and North Korea. At one point, Trump tweeted: "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man... Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!""

Their disagreements often fueled speculations that Tillerson's time maybe winding down.

Key points from his op-ed:

  • Russia: "We have no illusions about the regime we are dealing with," Tillerson wrote, adding that U.S. "today has a poor relationship with a resurgent Russia that has invaded its neighbors Georgia and Ukraine in the last decade and undermined" last year's election. At the same time, he said the country is "on guard against Russian aggression" and that the U.S. recognized the need to work with Russia on issues like Syria, "where mutual interests intersect."
  • North Korea: He tooted efforts made by U.S. allies and the U.N Security Council to impose trade sanctions against North Korea and severing diplomatic ties in hopes of having the isolated country abates its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
  • China: Tillerson urged China to add more pressure North Korea and that the U.S. will continue to pressure leaders in Beijing on trade imbalances, intellectual property theft and "troubling military activities in the South China Sea."
  • Terrorism: He called on Pakistan to contribute more by combating terrorist groups on its own soil.
  • Iran deal: It's "no longer the focal point of our policy toward Iran. Instead, the U.S. is "confronting the totality of Iranian threats" through rebuilding alliances and diplomatic ties in the Middle East, addressing flaws in the nuclear deal and punishing Iran for violating ballistic missile commitments, he added.

Go deeper: Read the op-ed here... How Rex Tillerson alienated every ally he needs

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,094,068 — Total deaths: 58,773 — Total recoveries: 225,519Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 273,880 — Total deaths: 7,077 — Total recoveries: 9,521Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: Wisconsin's governor called for a last-minute primary election delay. "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said on the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
  7. Tech updates: Twitter will allow ads containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases.
  8. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Senators call for independent investigation into firing of Navy captain.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Government will cover uninsured patients' coronavirus treatment

Azar at Friday's briefing. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The federal government will cover the costs of coronavirus treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at a White House briefing Friday.

How it works: The money will come from a $100 billion pot set aside for the health care industry in the most recent stimulus bill. Providers will be paid the same rates they get for treating Medicare patients, and as a condition of those payments, they won't be allowed to bill patients for care that isn't covered.

More states issue stay-at-home orders as coronavirus crisis escalates

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order on Friday as the novel coronavirus pandemic persists. The order goes into effect Saturday at 5 p.m. and will remain in place through April 30. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also issued a statewide social distancing order on Friday.

The big picture: In a matter of weeks, the number of states that issued orders nearly quadrupled, affecting almost 300 million Americans.

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