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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Mayor Bill de Blasio both took aim at former Rep. Beto O'Rourke in Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate, punching above their weight in polling and garnering head-turning exchanges.

Details: Castro, who shares the state of Texas with O'Rourke, took aim at him over decriminalizing undocumented immigration, while de Blasio targeted health care.

  • De Blasio took aim at O'Rourke's flip on a bill to replace private insurance. Previously, O'Rourke backed the bill, but has since said he would not replace private insurance, saying "the choice is fundamental to our ability."
  • De Blasio to Beto: "When you talk about the premiums and the out of pocket expenses, it's not working. How can you defend a system that is not working?" 

Castro attempted to cut off O'Rourke in debate as the congressman spoke about his goals to "spare no expense to reunite those separated already and not criminally prosecute."

  • The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development criticized O'Rourke for not supporting an overhaul of Section 1325 — a provision that criminalizes illegal entry to the United States.
  • "The reason that they are separating these children from their families is they are using section 1325 of that act that criminalizes coming across the courter to incarcerate the parents and separate them. Some of us have called to end that and terminate it, some like Congressman O'Rourke have not, and I want to challenge all of the candidates to do that."

O'Rourke responded that he'd introduced legislation in Congress to ensure asylum seekers are not criminalized, arguing that Castro is looking to address one part of the problem while he was seeking a "comprehensive rewrite."

Go deeper: Beto O’Rourke’s immigration plan

Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
4 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.