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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The new White House budget proposal, which would slash Energy Department science and R&D programs, is awkward for congressional Republicans who are taking pains to emphasize "innovation" to fight climate change.

The state of play: To some extent this is all theater because nobody expects this budget to resemble what's ultimately appropriated — but it complicates GOP efforts to tout their ideas when the president, who commands fierce loyalty from the party, is pushing in the other direction.

For instance, it calls for...

  • A 75% cut in DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, down to $720 million.
  • An end to funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.
  • A slash to DOE's Office of Science funding by roughly $1.2 billion to $5.8 billion.
  • Cuts to nuclear energy and, albeit smaller, fossil energy R&D.

The intrigue: The White House has tried to deeply slash DOE programs for years, and Congress hasn't gone along and won't this time.

  • But this year's release arrives on the heels of House Republicans beginning their push to promote a climate agenda.
  • And their policy ideas focus in part on accelerating clean technology development, while steering clear of emissions-cutting mandates and carbon pricing.
  • One of those recent proposals, from Rep. Frank Lucas, the top Republican on the House science panel, would greatly expand funding for scientific research.

What they're saying: Axios asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office whether the budget proposals are consistent with his innovation focus. A spokesperson said that the party's "vision is to double funding for basic research and fundamental science."

  • And ClearPath, a group that promotes "conservative" policies to boost clean energy tech, said that it is "encouraged that Congress and the administration will continue their trend of investing in clean energy innovation R&D," via its executive director, Rich Powell.

The other side: Renewables and environmental groups bashed the budget plan, which would also cut EPA programs. One example, the Environmental Defense Fund, hit at the White House for "prioritizing polluters" over public health.

Go deeper: Trump's budget proposal relies on highly unlikely expectations

Go deeper

FBI report likely to show record increase in murders in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If the FBI data released next week shows what's expected — that 2020 saw the highest single-year spike in U.S. murders in at least six decades — experts say the sudden job losses, fears and other jolts to society at the start of COVID-19 will likely have been the overwhelming drivers.

Why it matters: Many Democrats already feared that rising crime could hurt their party in the 2022 midterms.

12 mins ago - Health

Some experts see signs of hope as COVID cases fall

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New coronavirus cases are continuing to decline, and some experts are cautiously optimistic that the virus will continue to wane even into the fall and winter.

The big picture: The next few months are highly uncertain, and some localized outbreaks are all but guaranteed. But the U.S. is at least moving in the right direction again.

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.