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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is rejecting corporate PAC donations. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Democrats' latest litmus test is rejecting corporate PAC money. It's an easy way to appeal to their progressive, anti-establishment base that demands campaign finance reform.

By the numbers: More than 170 federal candidates have pledged not to take any donations from corporate PACS, AP's Lisa Lerer reports.

Between the lines: Lerer writes that this rejection "may be more symbolic than financial" because corporate donations really only make up a tiny fraction of political finance.

  • This is especially true for senators. Lerer points to Kamala Harris, who raised $19.7 million before she was elected in 2016, but less than 5% of that (around $900,000) was from corporate PAC donations.
  • But the symbolism matters, Democrats like Rep. David Cicilline argue. “I just have come to the realization over time that as long as the Republicans are in charge, they’re not going to move forward with any of the significant campaign finance reform,” he told AP. “Maybe this is a small way, on your own, to make a difference.”

Go deeper

Exclusive: Biden administration raises minimum wage for federal employees to $15

A poster demanding a federal $15-per-hour minimum wage seen near the White House in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 26, 2021. Photo: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal agencies are being directed to raise the minimum wages for government employees to $15 an hour, according to new guidance from the Office of Personnel Management shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: The guidance will impact almost 70,000 federal employees, most of which work at the Departments of Agriculture, Defense and Veterans Affairs. OMP is directing agencies to implement the new wage by Jan. 30.

23 mins ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron’s blitz around the globe has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.