May 25, 2017

Scoop: Top GOP senators urge Trump to exit Paris climate deal

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

A group of 22 heavyweight Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are sending a letter to President Trump today urging him to make a clean exit from the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. The letter applauds Trump for beginning the process of unwinding Obama's Clean Power Plan regulations, but says that goal is imperiled if he decides to remain in the Paris climate change deal.

Why this matters: Trump promised on the campaign trail to quit the Paris deal, but he's currently reconsidering the decision and his staff is divided.

Urging the president to remain: Ivanka Trump — to preserve a seat at the table for the U.S. — and Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been supportive of that approach.

Urging the president to leave: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, chief strategist Steve Bannon and White House counsel Don McGahn.

Key section from the Senators' letter to Trump:

"Because of existing provisions within the Clean Air Act and others embedded in the Paris Agreement, remaining in it would subject the United States to significant litigation risk that could upend your Administration's ability to fulfill its goal of rescinding the Clean Power Plan. Accordingly, we strongly encourage you to make a clean break from the Paris Agreement."

Senators who signed the letter include:

  • John Barrasso, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
  • Jim Inhofe, former chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
  • Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader
  • John Cornyn, Senate Majority Whip
  • Roy Blunt, Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
  • Orrin Hatch, Senate Finance chair
  • High-profile conservative senators: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee

Go deeper

Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and South Korea ups its case count

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.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins