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Add nuclear energy to the long list of sectors caught up in President Trump’s protectionist trade agenda.

Driving the news: The Commerce Department faces a Sunday deadline to deliver a report to Trump on whether it recommends imposing quotas requiring more uranium — the fuel used in nuclear plants — to be sourced domestically in the name of national security.

Where it stands: The two petitioners, U.S. uranium producers with operations across the West, including Colorado and Wyoming, are asking the administration to impose a 25% quota for domestic uranium. Right now that figure is just 7%.

  • The companies, Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels, allege that the increasing dependence on foreign imports of uranium threatens national security.
  • They point to the fact the U.S. imports Russian uranium and argue that China is playing an increasing role in the global uranium enrichment market.

The big picture: This is the latest example of afflicted domestic industries seeking to seize on a sympathetic president. This is at least the fourth such petition seeking trade barriers because of alleged national security concerns during the Trump administration.

  • The other three: steel, aluminum and autos. The latter two resulted in new trade restrictions, while the outcome is not yet determined for autos.
  • Trump also slapped tariffs on solar imports last year under a different provision.

The other side: A coalition of some of America’s biggest utilities, including Exelon and Duke Energy, argue domestic quotas for uranium would actually hurt America’s national security by increasing costs for America’s nuclear power plants.

  • The group, whose members also include Pacific Gas And Electric and Xcel Energy, points out that America doesn’t import any Chinese uranium and that our biggest suppliers are strong allies: Australia and Canada.

What’s next: Once he receives the report, Trump has 90 days to decide whether or to what degree to follow through on the recommendations.

Go deeper

Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades

oving crates outside Rep. Elise Stefanik's old office Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House plans to renovate members' suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios.

Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.