Axios Sneak Peek

The back of a propped up cardboard cut-out of the U.S. Capitol.
January 24, 2021

Welcome back to Sneak Peek, anchored by Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Kadia Goba.

🚨 Breaking: Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and the "Sweet 16" senators, Sen. Angus King tells Axios' Alayna Treene.

Situational Awareness: The House will transmit its impeachment article against former President Donald Trump to the Senate at 7 pm Monday.

  • Janet Yellen also is expected to be confirmed as Treasury secretary on Monday.

Today's newsletter — edited by Glen Johnson — is 705 words, a 2.5-minute read.

1 big thing: McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is seen speaking during a news conference.
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, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

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 latest proof: McCarthy's digital director, Caleb Smith, sent a blast email to a group of GOP communications staff Saturday afternoon asking them to show their support for his boss.

  • The subject line read: "{GOP-New-Media} Retweet Request," according to a copy of the email obtained by Axios.
  • Smith wrote: "HuffPost and the Blue Checks have been out in full force today trying to distort Leader McCarthy's words in an effort to divide America even further. They deserve to be called out. Would greatly appreciate your help in pushing back by retweeting this:"

Go deeper.

Sneak Extra: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer faces his own pressure in New York, Axios' Kadia Goba reports.

2. Exclusive: Biden to announce new personnel team

President Biden is seen standing before three TV screens as he conducts a virtual swearing-in for some of his staff.
President Joe Biden conducts a virtual swearing-in ceremony for members of his new administration. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More than 85% of staffers for the Biden administration's Office of Personnel Management being announced Monday identify as people of color, women or LGBTQ, according to a copy of the list obtained by Alayna.

Why it matters: President Biden has pledged a diverse Cabinet and government, and his gatekeepers to it reflect that promise through their own ranks.

The backstory: The office is in charge of recruiting new government employees and managing their benefits. The president has yet to name an office director, but Kathleen McGettigan — a longtime civil servant who also served in a temporary capacity at the start of the Trump administration — currently is acting director.

Some of the new hires at the office:

  • Chief of staff: Chris Canning served as a senior adviser to the director of the office during the Obama administration.
  • General counsel: Lynn Eisenberg most recently served as deputy general counsel for the Biden-Harris campaign.
  • Press secretary: Shelby Wagenseller was deputy chief operating officer of the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee.
  • Senior adviser to the chief of staff: Dave Marsh most recently served on the Biden-Harris transition team.
  • Senior adviser to the director: Mini Timmaraju most recently was executive director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Comcast.
  • White House liaison: Jason Tengco was the chief of staff for the Biden-Harris campaign’s coalitions department.

3. Biden's executive orders set record pace

Data: Federal Register and Biden White House website; Table: Axios Visuals
Data: Federal Register and Biden White House website; Table: Axios Visuals

President Biden has already blasted past the number of executive orders signed by recent presidents in the first week of their terms, according to data from the Federal Register and White House website analyzed by Axios' Stef Kight.

  • Biden's large number points to his eagerness to address U.S. crises like the coronavirus pandemic. It also underscores his intent to reverse actions by former President Trump, who himself sought to overturn policies by his predecessor, former President Obama.
  • The data does not include other presidential actions such as proclamations and memorandums that also are effective in shifting policies.

4. The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration of two hands holding markers like crossed swords, one marker is red one marker is blue.
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, Stef writes.

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.

Redistricting experts and advocates are especially concerned about political gerrymandering this year, given a 2019 Supreme Court ruling that blocks politics-based gerrymandering lawsuits from federal courts.

  • "I think this is going to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, fight of next cycle," Kelly Ward Burton, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, told Axios.

Go deeper.

5. Pic du jour

Workers are seen installing a palm tree near one of former President Trump's golf courses.
Photo: Marco Bello/Reuters

Workers at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, plant palm trees to block the view of the course — and its most famous golfer.

🕘 Thanks for kicking off your week with us. We'll be back tomorrow with the slightly earlier Sneak send time many readers requested: 9pm ET. A reminder that you can sign up for email delivery of all Axios newsletters here.