Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Senate Republicans are moving to swiftly confirm a conservative filmmaker to lead the independent agency in charge of Voice of America (VOA), the state-sponsored international news agency, per The New York Times.

Why it matters: The Trump administration has twice-nominated Michael Pack, but it's been held up in the Senate confirmation processes. Pack has received pushback from some Democrats for his ties to Steve Bannon.

  • Some Democrats still have hesitation. Last week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez, D-NJ, told the White House he had concerns about Pack’s business history, per CNBC.

The big picture: Broader concerns about VOA's independence arose after an Obama-era legal provision changed governance over the agency from a board of non-partisan directors to a CEO selected by the president.

  • Last month, the White House escalated its attacks on the VOA, saying it elevated Chinese propaganda. Many Democrats initially feared that the VOA would become a propaganda arm for the Trump administration, which journalists within the agency vehemently deny.
  • Sources say that while the White House began to publicly slam the VOA in April during the coronavirus, it had been been posturing against the group for many months.

By the numbers: The VOA broadcasts in more than 40 languages and reaches an estimated weekly audience of 280 million, mostly international.

  • The agency receives over $234.7 million in annual funding through the U.S. Agency for Global Media, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
  • It's governed by a 40+ year-old charter that legally requires the VOA to report "accurate, objective, and comprehensive" news abroad. Sources say that firewall feels very strong within the VOA.

Go deeper: VOA journalists fight claims that it is Trump propaganda

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

U.S. cities' lagging climate progress

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Reproduced from a Brookings Institution report; Chart: Axios Visuals

A just-published Brookings Institution analysis of U.S. cities' pledges to cut carbon emissions reveals very mixed results.

Why it matters: The potential — and limits — of city and state initiatives have gotten more attention amid President Trump's scuttling of Obama-era national policies.

New state unemployment filings fall to 787,000

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

First-time applications for unemployment fell last week, according to Department of Labor data released on Thursday.

Between the lines: The overall number of Americans relying on unemployment also fell to a still-staggering 23 million. But there are continued signs of labor market strain, with more people shifting to an unemployment program designed for the long-term jobless.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: Many U.S. deaths were avoidable — The pandemic is getting worse again.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.