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Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2022.

Why it matters: The 86-year-old lawmaker is the top Republican on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. He was first elected to the Senate in 1986 as a Democrat, before changing parties in 1994.

  • Throughout his six terms, Shelby chaired a trio of highly influential committees — banking, intelligence and rules — before heading appropriations.

The big picture: Shelby is the fourth Senate Republican to announce his retirement in 2022, following Rob Portman (Ohio), Richard Burr (N.C.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).

  • His retirement could set off an intra-party scramble for a replacement, as Republicans navigate which direction to take the party following the presidency of Donald Trump.
  • Democrats are thought to have little chance in deep-red Alabama, where Tommy Tuberville knocked off incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones by more than 20 points in November.

What he's saying: “Today I announce that I will not seek a seventh term in the United States Senate in 2022. For everything, there is a season,” Shelby wrote in a statement.

  • “I am grateful to the people of Alabama who have put their trust in me for more than forty years. I have been fortunate to serve in the U.S. Senate longer than any other Alabamian."
  • “Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today. I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all.”

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to reflect that Shelby is in his sixth term in the Senate (not his seventh).

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CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

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Data: International Olympic Committee; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios
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1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. students fell 4 to 5 months behind during pandemic

An empty classroom in Pinole, Calif. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Elementary school students in the U.S. ended the school year four to five months behind their expected level of academic achievement, according to a new report.

Why it matters: Months of school closures and often inferior remote education eroded what schoolchildren would have learned since the pandemic began, and caused some to go backwards.