Apr 29, 2019

Top Republican taps former Trump aide, energy exec for climate committee

Rep. Garret Graves. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), ranking member on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, is tapping 2 veteran energy and climate officials to lead the GOP's work on the newly established panel, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: George David Banks, President Trump’s former international energy and climate adviser, will be chief strategist for Graves. Martin Hall, most recently a senior official at the trade group Business Roundtable and former executive with utility FirstEnergy Corp., will be staff director.

Graves is expected to announce the news imminently. A request to his office wasn't immediately returned.

The big picture: With control of the House, Democrats are seeking to put climate back on the front burner, with the new select committee expected to play a large role. The Green New Deal, pushed by high-profile Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), is compelling Republicans to acknowledge the issue more while also exposing divisions among Democrats about how aggressive a climate agenda should be.

Background: Banks and Hall both worked on climate and energy issues in the George W. Bush administration.

  • Since resigning from the White House in February 2018 over reports of past marijuana use, Banks has worn a variety of hats, including at the conservative think tank American Council on Capital Formation and a campaign aiming to limit the influence of big investment funds on shareholder activism issues (especially climate change).
  • Hall was most recently a senior vice president at the Business Roundtable, having joined that group in 2017 after nearly 10 years at FirstEnergy.

Between the lines: These appointments suggest a genuine effort by Graves to engage on the issue. Both men acknowledge climate change is an issue, while Banks was among the few administration officials who urged Trump to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement (to no avail).

But, but, but: The select committee is unlikely to be anything more than a messaging machine on both sides because it lacks subpoena or legislative power. Graves' work in this area is also unlikely to influence the broader Republican caucus, which remains mostly dismissive of climate change — at least publicly.

Go deeper: Washington's empty messaging fight over the Green New Deal

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 1,203,923 — Total deaths: 64,795 — Total recoveries: 247,273Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 312,237 — Total deaths: 8,502 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest" time "between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. deaths are expected to continue to rise during this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health