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President Trump shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The outlook for a meaningful U.S.-China trade deal continues to deteriorate, as the House passed a bill supporting protesters in Hong Kong and China reportedly backtracked on part of the deal it agreed to last week.

The big picture: The House bill would require an annual review of whether Hong Kong is truly separate from Beijing to the point that it justifies the special trading status it receives under U.S. law and would implement sanctions against officials "responsible for undermining fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong."

  • Chinese officials unsurprisingly did not take the news well, accusing the U.S. of a "political plot" to thwart China’s development.
  • The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it would take strong measures against the U.S. if the bill passed.

On the agriculture front, Bloomberg reported that Chinese officials are seeking a rollback of $50 billion in tariffs before agreeing to raise purchases of U.S. agriculture to the $40-$50 billion range President Trump said was agreed to in the so-called phase 1 trade deal.

  • China is willing to start buying more U.S. agricultural products immediately as part of the trade deal agreed to in principle last week, but is unlikely to reach $40 billion to $50 billion without sanctions relief, the report said, citing unnamed sources.

Go deeper: Investors signal they hate Trump's "Phase 1" China trade deal

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.