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Sec. of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Sait Serkan Gurbuz / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that he is offended by reports that the State Department is being "hollowed out," and he attributed the cuts to two things: that the 2016 budget was "a record high," and that the Department expects to be successful in conflict areas and able to decrease their level of support.

Why it matters: A New York Times op-ed from two former diplomats said "draconian budget cuts for the State department...threaten to dismantle a great foreign service."

Tillerson's full statement:

"I have been so proud of the acting assistant secretaries and people who have stepped into acting undersecretary roles, and when I read these articles that there's this hallowing out, I take offense to that on their behalf...when people say somehow we don't have a state department that functions."

Go deeper

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the federal government's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state

Antony Blinken. Photo: Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 78-22 on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Why it matters: Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Biden, will lead the administration's diplomatic efforts to re-engage with the world after four years of former President Trump's "America first" policy.

1 hour ago - World

Former Google CEO and others call for U.S.-China tech "bifurcation"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new set of proposals by a group of influential D.C. insiders and tech industry practitioners calling for a degree of "bifurcation" in the U.S. and Chinese tech sectors is circulating in the Biden administration. Axios has obtained a copy.

Why it matters: The idea of "decoupling" certain sectors of the U.S. and Chinese economies felt radical three years ago, when Trump's trade war brought the term into common parlance. But now the strategy has growing bipartisan and even industry support.