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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Supreme Court ends California's restrictions on home religious meetings

Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 vote ruled that California's coronavirus restrictions on religious gatherings in private homes were unconstitutional, saying the state violated the First Amendment by disfavoring religious activities.

Why it matters: The court has consistently ruled in favor of religious freedoms over coronavirus restrictions starting in November 2020 when it ruled against limitations imposed on New York's places of worship.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw says he'll be blind for a month after eye surgery

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) in Washington, D.C., in December 2020. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in a statement Saturday he will be blind for roughly a month after getting surgery to reattach the retina in left eye.

Why it matters: Crenshaw, who lost his right eye and sustained severe damage to his left eye during his third deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, said he will be "pretty much off the grid for the next few weeks."

VCs are hopeful Biden's infrastructure investments boost startups tackling climate change

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

After co-piloting President Obama's efforts to fight climate change as vice president, Joe Biden is having his second go, releasing a broad infrastructure proposal his administration hopes will lead to meaningful legislation and investment into stemming U.S. greenhouse emissions.

The big picture: Though there are no concrete programs yet — Congress will have to formulate those — many in venture capital are hopeful such programs will provide new opportunities for startups tackling climate change.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The global future is looking dark and stormy

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.

The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.

14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rep. Gaetz declares he's "not going anywhere" amid sex trafficking probe

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) doubled down Friday night, saying he's not "going anywhere," and vowing, "I have not yet begun to fight," amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.

What he's saying: “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” Gaetz, who denies the allegations, said during a Women for America First event at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

Pentagon orders "immediate actions" to tackle extremism in armed forces

Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Friday signed a memo ordering several "immediate actions" to weed out extremism in the ranks.

Driving the news: The memo comes after Austin in February ordered commanding officers to hold a "stand down" to discuss extremism among the armed forces. The issue gained heightened attention after multiple service members and veterans were arrested for their alleged actions in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol siege.

17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Medical examiner: Police restraint was "just more than Floyd could take"

The medical examiner who performed George Floyd's autopsy testified Friday that law enforcement's restraint and compression of Floyd's neck was "just more than [he] could take," given his heart's condition.

Why it matters: Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner, is a key witness "for prosecutors who hope to convince jurors that Derek Chauvin killed Mr. Floyd when he knelt on him for more than nine minutes last May," the New York Times writes.

18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. issues new guidelines to "encourage" government engagement with Taiwan

US State Department spokesman Ned Price takes questions from reporters during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AFP via Getty Images.

The State Department issued guidelines on Friday "to encourage U.S. government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship."

Why it matters: The latest guidance comes amid heightened tensions over Taiwan, whose status is one of the most sensitive political issues between Washington and Beijing.

19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House Ethics panel opens investigation into Gaetz

Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks during panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, in February 2021. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it has launched an investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is facing a federal probe into sex trafficking allegations.

Driving the news: The panel said it is aware of allegations that Gaetz "may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift."

Biden’s southern border czar Roberta Jacobson to step down at the end of April

Special assistant to the president and coordinator for the Southern Border Ambassador Roberta Jacobson speaks as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki listens during a daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House March 10 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Southern border coordinator Roberta Jacobson’s last day in the Biden White House will be at the end of April before she retires, she announced on Friday.

Why it matters: The former ambassador to Mexico has been at the forefront of the administration’s efforts to handle the surge of migrants at the border — which shows no sign of stopping.

Rep. Katie Porter on the debate over what is and isn’t infrastructure

President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes spending on child care facilities and senior care — and now members of his administration and allies on Capitol Hill are arguing to expand the definition of infrastructure so it encompasses more than roads and bridges.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who supports Biden’s plans, but calls the decision to split up family policies and jobs “a big mistake.”

Kentucky governor signs bill limiting no-knock warrants

Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylors mother,atches as Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signs a bill limiting no-knock warrants into law in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed a bill Friday that limits the use of no-knock warrants in the state.

Why it matters: The law comes more than a year after the police killing of Breonna Taylor in a botched raid. While the law doesn't go as far as protesters and some state lawmakers hoped, many said it represents a step in the right direction and "will save lives."

Pro-Trump scam PAC operator hit with wire fraud charge

Then-President Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters during a rally at the International Air Response facility on Oct. 19, 2018, in Mesa, Arizona. Photo: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

A man behind a pro-Trump scam PAC has been hit with federal wire fraud charges alleging he bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors with false promises that the money would help support the former president's re-election efforts.

Why it matters: The charge handed down this week against James Kyle Bell shows how brazen some efforts to monetize grassroots political enthusiasm can be.

Forensic pathologist: George Floyd died from neck restraint

A veteran forensic pathologist testified Friday that the position of George Floyd's body appeared to show he could not get enough oxygen before he died, and that "there's no evidence to suggest that he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement."

Why it matters: Her testimony confirms autopsies that show Floyd died from "asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes.

Biden announces commission to study expanding the Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justices at Biden's inauguration in January 2021. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will sign an executive order Friday that creates a bipartisan commission to study a number of Supreme Court reforms, including expanding the number of seats on the court, the White House said.

Why it matters: The six-month commission, promised by Biden throughout the 2020 election, will provide an analysis of the principal arguments surrounding the divisive subject. Progressives are pushing for more seats after former President Trump appointed three justices to the court.

Biden unveils $1.52 trillion budget proposal

Biden speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 8. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration unveiled its first budget proposal to Congress on Friday, offering a glimpse into President Biden's policy agenda for the 2022 fiscal year.

The big picture: The $1.52 trillion budget proposal outlines top-line figures for Biden's major priorities, though it will ultimately be up to Congress to begin the lengthy appropriations process and allocate funding to federal agencies.

Lawmaker urges terrorist designation for foreign white supremacists

Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool via Getty Images

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) is pushing the Biden administration to designate overseas white supremacist groups as foreign terrorists, Reuters reported Friday.

Why it matters: White supremacist propaganda nearly doubled in the U.S. last year. Social media and conferences have allowed different groups to draw inspiration from one another, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Trump endorses Rubio's 2022 Senate re-election

Former President Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) shake hands in Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 14, 2016. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

Former President Trump has endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) 2022 re-election, in a statement released on Friday.

Why it matters: Rubio was already seen as the frontrunner in the 2022 Senate race as Trump decided to back the senator. Both Trump and Rubio are viewed as possible candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Politifact fact-checks DeSantis' dust-up with "60 Minutes"

Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The fact-checking website Politifact has tried to tease out the truth after a controversial "60 Minutes" report drew a connection between Florida's vaccine partnership with Publix and a big contribution Publix made to Gov. Ron DeSantis' PAC.

The state of play: DeSantis called the show "smear merchants" for reporting that poorer communities had been left behind, with no Publix Super Markets in Belle Glade, in the Glades area of Palm Beach County.

McConnell-aligned super PAC endorses Murkowski for re-election

Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC run by allies of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, endorsed Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) for re-election on Friday.

Why it matters: Murkowski is facing a primary challenge from Alaska commissioner Kelly Tshibaka, a pro-Trump Republican who has hired a number of the former president's top campaign aides as advisers.

The CEO job now includes political activism

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

America's CEOs need policies on the coming verdict in the Minneapolis police trial; the human rights dimensions of next year's World Cup in Qatar and Winter Olympics in Beijing; and voting-access bills — all different — moving through statehouses around the country.

Why it matters: As part of a generational change that has left many corporations on the defensive, CEOs are being pressured by younger workers and potential recruits — plus shareholders and customers — to take stands on issues they had always avoided. This includes the divisive issues of race, guns, climate change and LGBTQ rights.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Apr 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

A once-in-a-lifetime realignment

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're about to be hit with a flood of coverage about the close of President Biden's first 100 days, coming up at the end of April. But we should be paying a lot more attention to the 100-year trends that are unfolding in this age of volatility and polarization.

The big picture: Doug Sosnik — senior adviser to the Brunswick Group, and political director for President Bill Clinton — tells me the digital disruption is a hinge moment in American history that's unlike any since the transition from the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age in the late 1800s.

Climate spending is a story of the century

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A successful global effort to slash carbon emissions demands huge investments to finance the unprecedented transformation of energy systems and related infrastructure — and it's a capital shift that's already well underway.

Why it matters: Private investment is already ramping up, and President Biden wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars. Independent experts say the spending that will be needed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — a goal now embraced by the U.S. and many other countries — would be on the scale of the Industrial Revolution.

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger calls for Rep. Matt Gaetz to resign

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) late Thursday called for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to resign amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.

Why it matters: Kinzinger is the first congressional Republican to publicly demand Gaetz step down. Gaetz has denied allegations of being sexually involved with a 17-year-old, telling Axios in an interview last month that the investigation is "rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million."

At least 1 dead, 4 critically injured in shooting at Texas industrial park

A police officer blocking a road near the scene of a mass shooting in Bryan, Texas, on April 8. Photo: Sam Craft/AFP via Getty Images

At least one person was killed and four were critically injured Thursday in a shooting at a cabinet-making business in Bryan, Texas, the New York Times reported.

The big picture: The unidentified suspected gunman was taken into custody after authorities launched a manhunt, during which a state trooper was also shot and injured. Authorities have yet to determine a motive.

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