Feb 18, 2021

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 381 words, a 1.5-minute read.

1 big thing: "Meme stock" apology
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev testifying before Congress. Screenshot: CNBC

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev apologized at today's House Financial Services Committee hearing for the confusion when the platform restricted trading of certain "meme stocks," reports Axios' Courtenay Brown.

  • Citadel's Ken Griffin said his firm was "absolutely not" in contact with Robinhood over that decision.

The big picture: Regulators are scrutinizing what happened during the GameStop saga and whether there was wrongdoing.

  • But there was no SEC representation at today's hearing because Biden's pick to lead the agency has yet to be confirmed, said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

Between the lines: Jennifer Schulp, director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute, said she's seen "very little that would meet a test for [market] manipulation," but that doesn't mean the SEC shouldn't take a deeper look.

  • What's next: Waters says there will be "probably two more" hearings related to the issue.

Go deeper: Courtenay's new weekday newsletter "Axios Closer" — covering the day's biggest business stories and important trends — launches on Monday.

Ken Griffin testifies. Screenshot: CNBC
2. Texans scramble for drinking water
Photo: David J. Phillip/AP

Leovardo Perez fills a water jug from a public park water spigot today in Houston, where many residents are without potable water.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott today said lawmakers should mandate weatherization of Texas power plants, and fund the effort, the Dallas Morning News reports. He accused the state’s grid operator of failing to do its job.
3. Catch up quick
  1. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) flew back to Texas today after leaving for Cancun yesterday while hundreds of thousands of his constituents go without power and heat. His statement.
  2. Former Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole, 97, has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
  3. The winter storm slowed coronavirus vaccine shipments in some areas, Anthony Fauci told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. Go deeper.
  4. A new South Carolina law bans most abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Go deeper.
  5. A group of tech industry trade associations sued the state of Maryland over its newly enacted tax on digital ads targeted at state residents. Go deeper.
  6. Walmart is raising wages for approximately 425,000 employees to somewhere between $13–$19 an hour following a strong Q4. Go deeper.
4. 1 smile to go: Percy lands on Mars
The first photo Percy sent back from Mars. Photo: NASA

NASA's Perseverance rover — nicknamed Percy — successfully landed in Mars' Jezero Crater as part of the continued search for signs of past life on Mars, reports Axios Space editor Miriam Kramer.

  • Perseverance comes equipped with an instrument that might one day be used by human explorers to create oxygen from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

What's next: Perseverance has sample tubes to fill with rocks for an eventual return to Earth on a future mission, expected to launch in 2026.