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.
The United States on Thursday announced new export restrictions for Myanmar, and added the country's defense and home affairs ministries and other entities to a trade blacklist.
The big picture: The new rules come in response to the escalating military crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar.
The U.S. program responsible for detecting and responding to threats of bioterrorism lacks detection equipment in more than half the country and was unable to spot multiple biological agents known as possible threats, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general said in a report released Thursday.
Why it matters: If the country does not improve the program, called BioWatch, the "United States’ ability to prepare, detect, and respond to a potential bioterrorism attack is impeded, which could result in significant loss of human life," the IG said.
The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.
The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, a procedural move that will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate.
The Arkansas man who was pictured with his feet on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk during the Jan. 6 insurrection had an outburst in court Thursday, yelling at the judge and his own lawyers that it isn't "fair" he is still in jail, KNWA reports.
Background: Richard Barnett, 60, has been asking to be freed on bond since he was arrested days after the attack at the Capitol, per the New York Times. Barnett lost his patience after D.C. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper continued his trial until May 4.
West Virginia has no plans to lift its mask mandate, Gov. Jim Justice (R) told CNN on Thursday, adding, "I don't know what the rush is, and if we don't watch out, we can make some mistakes."
Why it matters: Texas and Mississippi, both led by Republican governors, are ending coronavirus restrictions as vaccinations ramp up across the country. Ditching the public safety measures could hasten another surge in coronavirus cases.
U.S. Capitol Police on Thursday asked that the National Guard remain on-site for an additional 60 days due to ongoing security concerns and potential violence at the Capitol, AP reports.
Why it matters: While many lawmakers are eager for security measures surrounding the Capitol — including fencing and an increased law enforcement presence — to be lightened, the request by Capitol Police reflects concerns about ongoing threats.
Thousands of residents over 65 in a wealthy gated enclave in the Florida Keys had received COVID vaccines by mid-January, while most of the rest of Florida's elderly waited for their shots, report the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.
Why it matters: The uber-rich Ocean Reef Club on Key Largo, with more than 2,100 full- or part-time members, was dubbed by the papers as "one of the highest-security private communities in the nation."
Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.
Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.
Taxing the rich is an idea that's back. An "ultra-millionaire tax" introduced by Elizabeth Warren and other left-wing Democrats this week would raise more than $3 trillion over 10 years, they say, while making the tax system as a whole more fair.
Why it matters: New taxes would be a necessary part of any Democratic plan to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality. But President Biden has more urgent priorities — and Warren's wealth tax in particular faces constitutional obstacles that make it a hard sell.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on Wednesday recommended extending the interval between first and second doses of COVID-19 to up to four months to boost inoculation numbers.
Why it matters: The panel said taking such action would allow about 80% of Canadians over 16 to receive a single dose by the end of June.
The House voted 220-210 Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.
Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.
The U.S. has administered 80,540,474 COVID-19 doses as of Wednesday, CDC data shows.
Why it matters: That's 75% of the 107,028,890 doses delivered. It means some 1.9 million more doses have been reported administered since Tuesday, taking the seven-day average to over 2 million a day for the first time, CNN notes. Nearly 53 million people, or 16% of the U.S. population, have had at least one COVID shot and almost 27 million have had two, per the CDC.
The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) told Fox News Wednesday he'd "absolutely" support former President Trump if he becomes the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nominee.
Why it matters: Trump has repeatedly lambasted Kemp since the governor resisted his pressure to overturn President Biden's 2020 election win in Georgia — notably in an hourlong phone call that is now being investigated in the state.
Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.
Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.
As Republicans lost the Senate and narrowly missed retaking the House, millions of dollars in grassroots donations were diverted to a handful of 2020 congressional campaigns challenging high-profile Democrats that, realistically, were never going to succeed.
Why it matters: Call it the outrage-industrial complex. Slick fundraising consultants market candidates contesting some of their party’s most reviled opponents. Well-meaning donors pour money into dead-end campaigns instead of competitive contests. The only winner is the consultants.
Nineteen seats in the U.S. Senate could potentially flip parties if there's an unexpected vacancy, according to Axios' analysis of state vacancy rules, which most often allow the governor to appoint a replacement.
Why it matters: Depending on the senator, a single resignation, retirement or death — by accident or old age — could flip control of the 50-50 Senate, or give Democrats a two-vote cushion.
The White House is quietly working with Senate Democrats to ensure President Biden has a steady stream of nominees for the federal courts, according to people familiar with the matter and an administration official.
Why it matters: Biden wants the federal judiciary to better reflect the country’s demographics, and to try to shield his unfolding legislative agenda from a judiciary currently dominated by Trump appointees.
The Transportation Department's deputy inspector general said a "formal investigation into potential misuses of [former Secretary Elaine Chao's] position was warranted," after finding evidence of possible ethics violations, according to a report made public on Wednesday.
Why it matters: The report reveals that the IG last December asked the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to consider a criminal investigation into Chao's actions, citing possible ethical or administrative concerns. Both declined to investigate.