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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Rex Tillerson is still Secretary of State. Photo: Cliff Owen / AP

Meet the new boss: Actually there is no new boss yet, but you probably know that yesterday brought fresh signs that the White House could push out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with current CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

The climate stakes: At first blush this would be a move even further to the right atop the agency that represents the U.S. in global climate change talks.

  • Pompeo has voiced skepticism about the scientific consensus on human-induced climate change and, according to multiple reports, in 2015 called the Paris agreement a "radical climate change deal."
  • E&E News published a story yesterday on the potential move that looks at Pompeo's record. It notes that the former Kansas House member would "bring a careerlong skepticism of climate science with him to Foggy Bottom," but at the same time points out that Pompeo "has been more tight-lipped about climate science in recent months."

What we're hearing: While Pompeo is a contrast to Tillerson, who had unsuccessfully argued for remaining in the Paris treaty. He's also close to President Trump, which could make for a less disjointed U.S. posture at global summits, where nitty-gritty decisions are hashed out.

"Governments won't have to ask themselves whether or not the Secretary of State has the ear of the President," one veteran of global climate diplomacy tells Axios.
"Drilling down on the UNFCCC and Paris, that means we'll have more clarity on the strategic approach and fewer last minute decisions (as we saw with the delegation) once he's in place," this source adds, referring to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the U.S. has been a party to for decades.

One big question: How Pompeo currently views the nexus between climate change and national security now that he's been heading the CIA for almost a year.

  • "[S]ince the intelligence establishment has been so clear for so long that climate change must be taken seriously as a security threat, I do wonder if that has made any impression on Pompeo since going to the agency," Andrew Light, a senior State Department climate aide in the Obama administration, tells Axios.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden plan expected to include at least $500B for climate

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is privately telling lawmakers the climate portion of President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending plan is "mostly settled" and will likely cost more than $500 billion, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: A pricetag of $500-$555 billion is a huge number and, if it holds, would likely be the single biggest component of the sweeping package. It also isn't far off from the roughly $600 billion proposed when the bill was expected to cost $3.5 trillion.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. presses Gulf countries to help resolve Sudan coup crisis

Jake Sullivan briefs the press. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Biden administration has asked its partners in the Gulf and elsewhere to press the Sudanese generals who carried out a coup on Monday to release captives including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and to reinstate the civilian government, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has limited influence over coup leader Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and other military leaders, many of whom have close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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