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Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro speaks at the Young Leaders Conference 2019 in Georgia on Aug. 16. Photo: Paras Griffin/WireImage

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro announced Monday a comprehensive animal welfare plan that would seek to strengthen the Endangered Species Act, which has just been weakened by President Trump's administration.

Why it matters: Castro is the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to release a plan for animal welfare with his "PAW Plan" (Protecting Animals and Wildlife.").

Details

Euthanasia of healthy dogs and cats in shelters would be outlawed if Castro were elected president in 2020. And the former Housing and Urban Development secretary has pledged to improve federal housing policy relating to pets. Other initiatives:

Cruelty to animals would become a federal crime and the testing of cosmetics on animals would be banned.

Wildlife conservation initiatives include a crackdown on trophy hunting to protect animals including elephants, lions and rhinoceroses. Castro plans to end the import of big-game trophies — which NBC News notes is a favorite past-time of the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

"Protecting these majestic animals must first start with repealing the Trump administration’s NRA loopholes that allow trophy hunting and enforcing strict penalties on the domestic ivory trade. We must go further and ensure that animals in the process of receiving a designation under the Endangered Species Act are covered under anti-trophy hunting import restrictions."
— Castro's election pledge

A $2 billion per year National Wildlife Recovery Fund would be introduced for state and tribal governments, to protect, maintain, and strengthen wildlife populations.

Animal welfare standards in factory farms would be improved and the unlicensed private ownership of big cats, such as lions and tigers, would be banned.

A $40 million Local Animal Communities grant program would be created to expand spaying, neutering and vaccinations for low-income pet owners.

The use of federal land for fossil fuel exploration would be outlawed, Castro said, as he pledged to clean up "Trump's environmental disaster" — accusing the president of "privatizing public land to appease big oil and gas corporations at the expense of conservation and preservation."

"Trump values profits over people, individual fortunes over our collective future, and he is the most anti-animal president in our history."

Go deeper: Julián Castro on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.