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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

2020 Democrat Marianne Williamson apologized in a response to The Daily Beast on Wednesday for calling vaccine mandates "draconian" and "Orwellian."

"Public safety must be carefully balanced with the right of individuals to make their own decisions. I am sorry that I made comments which sounded as though I question the validity of life-saving vaccines. That is not my feeling and I realize that I misspoke."

The backdrop: At a campaign event in New Hampshire, Williamson argued the issue is about free autonomy over one's body: "To me, it's no different than the abortion debate. The U.S. government doesn't tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child."

Of note: As many on Twitter have pointed out, Orwell died at just 46 years old from tuberculosis, which is now preventable by vaccine.

Go deeper: Marianne Williamson on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

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