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Rep. Ilhan Omar told "Axios on HBO" that given the way progressives have shaped Joe Biden's policy platform, she and other members of "The Squad" expect a liberal turn from him if he's elected.

Why it matters: Progressives have largely refrained from publicly criticizing Biden in the lead-up to the election, even though he hasn't signed on to their most far-reaching policies. Instead, they're focusing solely on beating Trump.

  • But Omar's comments reflect the pressure campaign they'll launch if he's elected to ensure that their liberal policies become law.

"We will have a cohort of progressives that are very clear about their objectives for wanting the implementation of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal and raising the minimum wage and not allowing for fracking," Omar said.

  • "There has been a level of responsiveness ... to the policies that we are advocating for that we know will have not just a future in his administration, but a future in the upcoming administrations after his," she added.
  • "As progressives, we have a clear understanding of what the inside and outside game is."

What she's saying: "I know that when the policy platform was being put into place, a lot of our feedback was incorporated throughout his platform," Omar said.

  • "In some spaces, it doesn't go as far as, you know, I would like or Bernie [Sanders] would like. But we know that that responsiveness is a signal for us to do what we know how to do best as progressives, which is to push and to mobilize our base trying to accomplish these policy objectives."
  • If Biden is elected, progressives will be pushing him on personnel in addition to policy. Omar said she would not be OK with Biden appointing any Republicans to his Cabinet — something he is reportedly considering.
  • "We do want a more unified country, and we do want a space where we can debate our policy differences but not see each other as the enemy," she said. But she sees a danger if a Biden administration includes people who support "policies that are contrary to what the Democratic platform is."

The big picture: Proposals like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, enacting a $15 minimum wage (which Biden supports), and banning fracking are all top priorities for "The Squad" if Biden wins.

  • But conversations around police reform, immigration and campaign finance will take a sharp turn to the left if Biden is elected because Omar and other progressives expect to have a seat at the table during those discussions.
  • "The president is only as successful as his collaboration is with Congress," Omar said.

Between the lines: Biden ran as a moderate compared to some of his 2020 primary rivals, most notably Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was endorsed by Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib. (Rep. Ayanna Pressley, the fourth member of "The Squad," endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren.)

  • But even Sanders has said that Biden is poised to become "the most progressive president since FDR" if he enacts what they've put together in his policy platform so far.

The bottom line: The intra-party fight might not be public, but progressives like Omar plan to push the Biden team behind the scenes to ensure their progress isn't matched by moderation.

  • "We know that every step forward can sometimes mean two steps back. And our work really is trying to be vigilant this time that the steps back are not as drastic as the steps forward we're taking," she said.
  • "So what we are committed to is doing the work in trying to make sure that we are creating a mass movement to try to have the mass changes we need in policy."

Go deeper

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Biden to name Antony Blinken as secretary of state

Anthony Blinken, then deputy secretary of state speaks at a 2016 summit 2016 in New York City. Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

President-elect Joe Biden will name as secretary of state his longtime adviser Antony Blinken, who has held diplomatic and national security jobs since the Clinton administration, a Biden adviser confirmed to Axios on Sunday.

Our thought bubble: By nominating Blinken, who has worked closely with Biden over the past two decades, Biden may return more authority to and work to rebuild the ranks and morale inside the diplomatic corps after President Trump moved to diminish its reach and centralize decision making inside the White House.

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COVID-19 is the macro horror of our lifetimes, and has destroyed or severely damaged countless businesses. But, like with most horribles, it also has created some opportunities.

Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.

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Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.

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