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Riccardo Dalle Luche / ANSA via AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stopped in Italy Tuesday for the G7 summit to discuss the U.S. missile strikes in Syria following Bashar al-Assad's deadly weapons attack last week, as well as U.S. policy moving forward. Notable quotes:

  • Tillerson said the Syria strike was a "matter of national security interest" and that the U.S. cannot let Assad's stockpile of chemical weapons fall into the hands of ISIS or others.
  • The U.S. will look for strategic options to de-escalate the violence in Syria, and that it is clear "to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end."
  • Russia must choose between aligning with the U.S. and likeminded countries, or with Assad, Iran and Hezbollah.

Next stop: Tillerson is heading to Moscow later this afternoon where he will meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The two had originally planned to discuss issues such as Ukraine, NATO, Iran, and sanctions, but the talks are now expected to be dominated by their disagreements on Syria.

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Congress grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Both chambers of Congress on Thursday voted to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the path to confirmation for President Biden's nominee for defense secretary.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.

McConnell proposes February impeachment trial

Sen. Mitch McConnell Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is proposing that the impeachment trial of former President Trump begin in mid-February to allow for due process.

Why it matters: The impeachment trial is likely to grind other Senate business to a halt, including the confirmation process for President Biden's Cabinet nominees.