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Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Finance Committee chairman, President Pro Tempore of the Senate and longest-serving Republican senator, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of this term, his seventh.

Why it matters: Mitt Romney has been considering a run in the event Hatch retires. President Trump had urged Hatch to seek re-election, in part to block Romney. Romney has moved from "willing to run" to "wanting to run" in recent weeks, MSNBC's Garrett Haake reports. He released a statement on Hatch's retirement Tuesday, but did not comment on running for the open seat.

Worth noting: Thad Cochran will replace Hatch as President Pro Tempore should he win re-election and Republicans keep control of the Senate. If Cochran also retires, the title will go to Chuck Grassley. If Democrats win the post goes to Pat Leahy.

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Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.