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David Mareuil / AP

James Mattis is carrying a monstrous political weight on his shoulders. He's the man — alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — whom America's treaty allies are looking toward to steer Trump's foreign policy in more conventional and reassuring directions.

Over the past week alone, Trump unsettled the following allies: Australia, Germany, and Mexico. And he's withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaving China to become a more dominant trade player in Asia. And China-watchers are worried about Steve Bannon's hawkish views on the South China Sea.

In short: America's treaty allies are questioning whether Pax Americana is stable in the Trump Era.

Enter Mattis. He's well respected on both sides of the aisle, and seen as a moderating influence on Trump. Outgoing Obama Administration officials love him. He traveled first to South Korea and Japan to deliver a clarion message of American support.

I want there to be no misunderstanding during the transition in Washington that we stand firmly, 100 percent shoulder to shoulder with you and the Japanese people. — Mattis to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Why this matters: Trump thrives on instability. Applied to foreign affairs, however, Trump's bombast has unsettled every country that lives under the U.S. security umbrella. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the best hopes these countries have to stabilize Trump. The earliest signs since their appointments — Mattis' Asia trip and Trump's unexpectedly conventional statement on Israeli settlements — may make America's allies cautiously hopeful.

Go deeper

Biden warned Putin of specific "consequences" if Russia invades Ukraine

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."

Senate leaders sell members on debt limit deal

Sen. Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are urging their respective caucuses to back a deal that would clear a path to raising the debt ceiling.

Driving the news: The agreement, negotiated by the two leaders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), involves Congress passing a law allowing a one-time rule change so the Senate can raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, rather than the 60 typically needed to overcome the filibuster.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

CDC: 60% of U.S. is fully vaccinated

Photo: Nick Oxford/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sixty percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: This comes as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the U.S. It has been detected in 19 states, and the number is expected to increase, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during Tuesday's White House COVID-19 briefing.

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