Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, are seated during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Monday evening that they think any new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) should be neither time-restricted nor geographically-restricted. As Mattis sees it, that's "because war is fundamentally unpredictable" and ISIS is "transnational." Mattis also told senators "a new AUMF is not legally required to address the continuing threat" posed by terrorist groups.

Why it matters: The deadly Niger ambush has elevated lawmakers' questions about the AUMF currently used to justify military action abroad. It was passed in 2001, long before the existence of groups like ISIS that the U.S. is now fighting.

Other key takeaways:

  • On repealing old authorizations: Mattis added that he does not think the old AUMFs must not be repealed for fear of jeopardizing legal battles with terrorists, including "al-Qaida, the Taliban, and, we believe, ISIS." Tillerson said something similar, but noted new AUMFs should be in place before repealing old ones since "failure to do so could cause operational paralysis."
  • On military force against North Korea: When asked to clarify that Trump has no authorization from Congress to use military force against North Korea, Tillerson answered, "that's my understanding, yes."
  • Tillerson said he does not think there should be operational restrictions, "given the way this particular enemy morphs, changes its tactics."

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.