Carolyn Kaster / AP

New Environmental Protection Agency secretary Scott Pruitt — confirmed by the Senate 52-46 Friday — told the WSJ that he will vigorously defend states' rights, and pledged to keep the EPA's annual $7 billion budget — roughly half — that goes to the states as funds and grants.

Pruitt argues that his dedication to rebalancing power between Washington and the states departs from previous administrations, mainly Obama's. "This past administration didn't bother with statutes," said Pruitt. "They displaced Congress, disregarded the law, and in general said they would act in their own way. That now ends."

Pruitt's approach to also defies the stereotype of wanting to gut the agency, WSJ's Kimberley Strassel writes. At the same time, he's also been a target of members of the anti-Trump "resistance" who have threatened to bury Pruitt in lawsuits if he attempts to roll back their agenda. But Pruitt said he isn't too worried about his opponents. He argues that by sticking to the statues and ensuring that the state's get their fair share of power, the EPA will be protected from all rival factions.

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China announces retaliatory sanctions on Rubio, Cruz and other U.S. officials

Photos: Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images; Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry announced Monday that it's imposing sanctions on Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), along with nine other Americans, per Bloomberg.

Why it matters: It's a direct response to similar actions by the U.S. that included the Trump administration placing sanctions on officials Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam last Friday over Beijing's encroachment of the Asian financial hub's s autonomy.

Biden’s union push could force showdown with Elon Musk

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Joe Biden wants to go big on climate change and big on unions. Elon Musk leads on the former but lags on the latter.

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Updated 43 mins ago - World

Police and protesters clash in Belarus after "Europe's last dictator" claims election win

Protesters and riot police clash in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday during a demonstration against President Alexander Lukashenko's claim of a landslide victory. Photo: Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

Riot police clashed with protesters in Belarus overnight after a government exit poll predicted Sunday President Aleksander Lukashenko, an authoritarian who has ruled the Eastern European country since 1994, had overwhelmingly defeated a pro-democracy opposition candidate.

Why it matters: It's a precarious moment for the former Soviet republic, where decades of repression and a complete disregard for the coronavirus pandemic threaten to topple "Europe's last dictator." Rights groups said at least one protester was killed and dozens more wounded in a "police crackdown," per AP.