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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Infrastructure, housing and climate change are among the top issues mayors want Democratic 2020 presidential candidates to address if elected.

Why it matters: City leaders aren't satisfied with the 2020 field's attention to concerns that are worsening inequality and undermining the safety and financial security of millions who live in cities.

  • "We need help from Washington, but many times when we knock on the door, no one answers," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a forum in Iowa last week where mayors asked five Democratic candidates about their plans.

Driving the news: The U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities have both released 2020 agendas to call on the candidates to focus on cities' most pressing problems. The lists are long, but a few themes are clear priorities.

1. Infrastructure: Mayors are calling for at least $1 trillion in sustainable infrastructure spending to fix drinking and wastewater treatment plants, bridges and roads, and broadband.

  • Maintaining aging systems accounts for 60% of national infrastructure spending, per Brookings, while total spending on infrastructure has declined.
  • It will take approximately $4 trillion to repair the current state of infrastructure by 2025, per the American Society of Civil Engineers.

2. Housing: Housing costs have outpaced wages in cities across the country, making rent increasingly unaffordable in many of the biggest job centers and leading to a rise in homelessness.

  • The U.S. Conference of Mayors called for increased investments in the Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs, in part to improve housing options and expand rental assistance.
  • Sen. Cory Booker (former Newark, New Jersey, mayor) and Julián Castro (former San Antonio, Texas, mayor) have both proposed refundable tax credits for renters. Tom Steyer proposed more than doubling government spending on homelessness.

3. Climate change: Cities have been leaders in commitments to reduce emissions and promote renewable energy. Local officials want federal resources to help accelerate those efforts and to establish policies and incentives for new and existing buildings to be carbon neutral.

  • "It's not just a coastal issue, it's not just about rising sea levels," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar at last week's mayors' forum in Waterloo, Iowa. "Home insurance has doubled across this country. That's an economic argument that hits people in a different way."

4. Gun control: Both organizations back universal background checks for gun sales and transfers.

5. Workforce development: Both the League of Cities and Conference of Mayors emphasized the importance of skills training and apprenticeships to help prepare workers for jobs of the future as AI and automation become more pervasive.

  • Expanding Pell Grant eligibility and other grants for upskilling and reskilling are also on the wish list.

Go deeper: Why 2020 has become the mayors' race

Go deeper

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 7 hours ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She co-opted a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framed the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.