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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

Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

Details: State television said the ambassador had "betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador."

Scoop: Biden admin call on Putin pipeline provokes GOP anger

Putin chairs a video meeting in July 2020. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

A briefing between the State Department and congressional staff over Vladimir Putin's Russia-Germany gas pipeline got tense this week, with Biden officials deflecting questions about why they hadn't moved faster and more aggressively with sanctions to stop its completion.

  • The Biden officials also denied negotiating with the Germans over a potential side deal to allow the pipeline to be finished.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Biden: It's "not the time to relax" COVID mitigation efforts — Tracking coronavirus variants through sewage.
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.
  6. World: Brazil's capital enters 24-hour lockdown as coronavirus cases surge.