Politics & Policy

Why it matters: President Biden has made the COVID-19 crisis and a post-Trump return to national unity and traditional democratic ideals his top priorities. From vaccinations to stimulus to schools, Biden is seeking bipartisan compromise while showing a willingness to use executive authority and bare Democratic majorities in the U.S. House and Senate to implement his policies. Republican leaders are navigating deep party divisions over if and how to move beyond former President Trump.

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Bipartisan police reform negotiations end without deal

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) with Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in the Capitol in May 2021. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bipartisan talks on reforming police tactics and accountability, prompted by George Floyd's murder in May 2020, have ended without a compromise, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a key negotiator, said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Lawmakers, led by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Booker, had been working toward a bipartisan deal for months but they fell apart due to disagreements on qualified immunity and other issues.

Biden speaks with Macron for first time since diplomatic crisis

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have a conversation ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels, on June 14, 2021. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron for the first time since a diplomatic row erupted over a scrapped submarine order, per the White House.

Driving the news: Macron said that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week and will resume working with senior U.S. officials.

North Carolina man pleads not guilty to making Capitol bomb threat

First responders and police investigating Floyd Ray Roseberry's bomb threat outside the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 19. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

North Carolinian Floyd Ray Roseberry pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and explosive materials after he allegedly claimed to possess an armed bomb near the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 19, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: A federal judge declared Wednesday that Roseberry is mentally competent to stand trial after he was ordered to undergo a competency evaluation in August because of his history of mental illness.

Gina McCarthy: Extreme heat the "silent killer" from climate change

Photo: Axios

The Biden administration is taking a "whole-government approach" to address the challenges posed by extreme heat, White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said at an Axios virtual event on Wednesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's comments come two days after the Biden administration announced a multi-agency plan to combat the threat posed by extreme heat, including addressing inequality in heat exposures.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. to buy 500 million more Pfizer doses to share with the world — Fauci: Vaccine could be available for children 5–11 in "weeks" — Biden to get booster shot on camera.
  2. Health: Care for kidney disease plummeted in the pandemic — Manufacturers warn rapid test shortages are coming — Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years.
  3. Politics: Brazil's health minister tests positive during UN summit in N.Y. — Massachusetts State Police union sues over governor's vaccine mandate — Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home.
  4. Education: Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban — D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option — More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Emancipation statue unveiled in Virginia after removal of Lee monument

Screengrab courtesy of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam livestream

A new statue commemorating the abolition of slavery was unveiled in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday, two weeks after a monument of Confederate general Robert E. Lee was removed.

State of play: The Emancipation and Freedom Statue consists of two bronze statues depicting a man and a woman holding a baby after being freed from slavery. It also includes the names of 10 Virginians who fought for emancipation, including Dred Scott.

7 hours ago - Health

U.S. to buy 500 million more Pfizer doses to share with the world

A nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The Biden administration is planning to purchase 500 million more Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine doses to donate to the world, officials said in an op-ed Wednesday.

Why it matters: The move represents a big step toward making the U.S. a major global vaccine supplier just as China has ramped up exports of its Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSino vaccines, which can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures.

Mike Allen, author of AM
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

SEC chair Gary Gensler sees short life for crypto

Via Twitter

SEC chair Gary Gensler said he doesn’t see long-term viability for thousands of cryptocurrencies, likening them to the wildcat banking era before federal regulation, The Wall Street Journal reports.

What they're saying: "I don’t think there’s long-term viability for five or six thousand private forms of money,” Gensler told the WashPost's David Ignatius at a virtual event. "So in the meantime I think it’s worthwhile to have an investor-protection regime."

Mike Allen, author of AM
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Woodward and Costa channel Biden aides in new book

George Stephanopoulos interviews Robert Costa and Bob Woodward on Monday. Screengrab: ABC

"Peril" — the instant bestseller by Bob Woodward and his Washington Post colleague Robert Costa — grabbed headlines for its Donald Trump reporting. But half the book covers President Biden, with Woodwardian channeling of top advisers' interior monologues:

In a 50-50 Senate, each Democrat was a tall pole in the tent. Everyone was needed. [Chief of staff Ron] Klain recalled that they all thought that life in the Obama White House had been hard with 58 Democratic senators. He fantasized that if Biden had 58 Democrats, as chief of staff Klain would only have to work three days a week. (p. 347-8)
Mike Allen, author of AM
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Report: U.S. releasing Haitian migrants on "very large scale"

Migrants' encampment along the International Bridge near the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, on Tuesday. Photo: Julio Cortez/AP

Many Haitian migrants camped in the Texas border town of Del Rio are being released in the U.S., two federal officials tell AP.

Driving the news: Haitians have been freed on a "very, very large scale" in recent days, according to one U.S. official, who put the figure in the thousands.

10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Charter schools boomed during the pandemic

Expand chart
Data: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Map: Sara Wise/Axios

Charter schools picked off hundreds of thousands of public school students across the U.S. during the pandemic, according to a new analysis from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Why it matters: The pandemic has weakened America's public education system, as Zoom classes, teacher fatigue and student disengagement take their toll. And that hobbled system is shedding students to charter schools, private schools and homeschooling.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Fla., on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

14 hours ago - Health

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the UN General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (left) and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Photos: Montinique Monroe and Win McNamee via Getty Images

The Education Department is investigating Texas' ban on mask mandates and its possible violation of disability rights.

Why it matters: Texas is one of several states under investigation for mask mandate bans that have impacted schools across the U.S.

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.

18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The Democrats' debt dilemma

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats find themselves in a political and potentially catastrophic economic quagmire as Republicans stand firm on denying them any help in raising the federal debt ceiling.

Why it matters: The Democrats are technically right — the debt comes, in part, from past spending by President Trump and his predecessors, not only President Biden's new big-ticket programs. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is saddling them with the public relations challenge of making that distinction during next year's crucial midterms.

Pelosi's endgame

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears at a news conference on Tuesday. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) began her infrastructure endgame Tuesday, pressuring centrists to ultimately support as much social spending as possible while pleading with progressives to pass the roads-and-bridges package preceding it.

Why it matters: Neither group can achieve what it wants without the other, their ultimatums be damned. The leaders of both acknowledged the speaker's unique gift for pulling off a deal after separate conversations with Democratic leaders.

18 hours ago - World

Scoop: U.S. government buying risky Chinese drones

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Federal law enforcement agencies are purchasing surveillance drones from a Chinese company the Pentagon has deemed a potential national security threat, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Efforts to purge military and law enforcement agencies of potentially compromised Chinese technology have stalled amid bureaucratic red tape, and experts worry the federal government is needlessly exposing itself to snooping by malicious foreign actors.

FBI director: Domestic terrorism cases have surged since 2020

Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Sept. 21. Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before a Senate committee Tuesday that the agency's domestic terrorism caseload has "exploded" in size since spring of 2020.

Why it matters: The Jan. 6 Capitol riot refocused attention on the issue of domestic terrorism and security, but Wray's testimony points to a trend that pre-dates the insurrection.

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