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The U.S. Army via Flickr CC

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joe Votel testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. Here's what you need to know:

  1. He admitted there is a "stalemate" in the more than 15-year-old war in Afghanistan and said there is a discussion ongoing with Mattis about sending a few thousand more U.S. troops to the country. Current deployment stands at about 8400.
  2. He said he is concerned the U.S. will be caught between Turkey and U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria, admitted there is a risk of conflict there, and confirmed Marines have been deployed. Read our earlier story on the buffer zone here and Marines being deployed here.
  3. Votel said "Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to U.S. interests" in the region, including concerns about ballistic missiles, naval mines, and UAVs (unmanned aircraft).
  4. Votel said he has reviewed the raid in Yemen that killed a Navy SEAL and found there were no lapses in judgement and that it produced valuable knowledge on al-Qaida militants. He added that between four and 12 innocent civilians were killed in the raid.

Go deeper

Scoop: FDA chief called to West Wing

Stephen Hahn. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has summoned FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to the West Wing for a 9:30am meeting Tuesday to explain why he hasn't moved faster to approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, two senior administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: The meeting is shaping up to be tense, with Hahn using what the White House will likely view as kamikaze language in a preemptive statement to Axios: "Let me be clear — our career scientists have to make the decision and they will take the time that’s needed to make the right call on this important decision."

Scoop: Schumer's regrets

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images   

Chuck Schumer told party donors during recent calls that the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the fact that Cal Cunningham "couldn't keep his zipper up" crushed Democrats' chances of regaining the Senate, sources with direct knowledge of the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Democrats are hoping for a 50-50 split by winning two upcoming special elections in Georgia. But their best chance for an outright Senate majority ended when Cunningham lost in North Carolina and Sen. Susan Collins won in Maine.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.