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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (on left) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool / Getty Images

President Donald Trump is expected to reveal a program as early as next month that will increase the role that Pentagon attaches and State Department diplomats play in weapons sales in order to boost sales abroad, Reuters’ Mike Stone and Matt Spetalnick reported in an exclusive. One senior administration official and a National Security Council spokesperson confirmed the plan to Axios.

Why it matters: The U.S. already is the world’s top arms supplier. Critics of America’s human rights record could be quick to point out this helps the U.S. implicitly or explicitly support violence abroad or even terrorist activities.

The details, per Reuters:

  • It would be a part of Trump’s “Buy American” push and is expected to roll out as a National Security Decision Directive.
  • It could include an easing of rules on exports for foreign countries’ purchases of U.S.-made military equipment.

The big picture:

  • Trump’s administration already has made several controversial international sales, including those to Saudi Arabia and to Bahrain.
  • Former President Obama also worked to make it easier for U.S. arms sales to foreign countries, with limits on who the recipients could be. (Arms exports under Obama more than doubled former President George W. Bush's tally, per DefenseOne.)
  • The senior administration official and NSC spokesperson told Axios that national security, foreign policy, and human rights will still be central to arms transfers reviews and approvals.
  • U.S.-based defense contractors stand to benefit from the changes and could help them counter increasingly aggressive rivals in international arms sales, including Russia and China, per Reuters. “This is a win-win for the US," a defense industry official told Axios. "You get American manufacturing jobs, stronger ties with ally nations, you keep production lines hot. It’s exactly the approach that we need moving forward.”

What's next: The senior administration official told Axios the rollout should be expected sometime this winter or spring. The interagency process of ironing out proposals between the Pentagon, State and Commerce is moving forward right now.

  • "What is changing is that this Administration is putting greater focus on ensuring decisions are not delayed unnecessarily," the source told Axios.

Response: A Defense spokesperson declined to comment on the plan.

Editor's note: This has been updated with White House comment and a comment from a defense industry official.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

A health care worker preparing a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine dose in New York City on Oct. 21. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the Food and Drug Administration Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.