Politics & Policy

Why it matters: As Joe Biden prepares to take over the White House and preside over what will likely be a divided Congress, President Trump is taking a defiant approach to his departure — making lame-duck moves to settle personal scores and enacting final measures to put a lasting stamp on the U.S. government.

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Bipartisan group of senators unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.

Exclusive: Don Jr. tells Georgia Senate voters that Trump is on the ballot

Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui T./Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In a six-figure radio ad being released in Georgia today, Donald Trump Jr. tells the state's voters that the U.S. Senate — and his father's accomplishments — are on the line during January's special election, according to audio obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Trump Jr.'s first of many advertisements in the Georgia Senate races argues the race isn't just about electing the Republican incumbents, but also about preserving President Trump's agenda.

Local news trade groups bid Ajit Pai farewell

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Local news groups will miss Ajit Pai when he leaves his post as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on January 20.

Why it matters: Despite the fact that the Trump administration broadly was seen as having a hostile view towards the press, Pai was considered by several trade groups as a loyal supporter of local news.

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

Kamala Harris to name Bill Clinton aide Tina Flournoy as chief of staff

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Harris plans to name Tina Flournoy, currently chief of staff to former President Clinton, as her chief of staff in the White House, a source familiar with transition planning tells me, confirming a report by Yashar Ali.

Why it matters: There's been intense fascination about this post among top Democrats, with Harris likely to remain a power in the party for many years to come.

FBI stats show border cities are among the safest

Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Note: This table includes the eight largest communities on the U.S.-Mexico border and eight other U.S. cities similar in population size and demographics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

U.S. communities along the Mexico border are among the safest in America, with some border cities holding crime rates well below the national average, FBI statistics show.

Why it matters: The latest crime data collected by the FBI from 2019 contradicts the narrative by President Trump and others that the U.S.-Mexico border is a "lawless" region suffering from violence and mayhem.

What Matters 2020

First look: Slavery ancestor project expands

American abolitionist Harriet Tubman stands with a group of formerly enslaved people she helped lead to freedom. Photo: Bettmann/Getty

A database that gathers records about the lives of enslaved Africans and their descendants is undergoing a massive, crowdsourcing-powered expansion to unlock Black Americans' genealogical histories, organizers tell Axios.

Why it matters: The initiative to be unveiled today by Enslaved.org is the latest to reconstruct lost or incomplete timelines and records from the 1600s-1800s, as the U.S. and other nations reckon with systemic racism.

The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new study finds certain vocabulary is more effective at getting the public to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.

Why it matters: Much of the language being used by the government, business leaders and the media to discuss the virus politicizes the issue, even if done inadvertently. This is causing large swaths of the population to tune out of information about the pandemic, veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz told Axios.

Scoop: FDA chief called to West Wing

Stephen Hahn. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has summoned FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to the West Wing for a 9:30am meeting Tuesday to explain why he hasn't moved faster to approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, two senior administration officials told Axios.

Why it matters: The meeting is shaping up to be tense, with Hahn using what the White House will likely view as kamikaze language in a preemptive statement to Axios: "Let me be clear — our career scientists have to make the decision and they will take the time that’s needed to make the right call on this important decision."

Scoop: Schumer's regrets

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images   

Chuck Schumer told party donors during recent calls that the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the fact that Cal Cunningham "couldn't keep his zipper up" crushed Democrats' chances of regaining the Senate, sources with direct knowledge of the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Democrats are hoping for a 50-50 split by winning two upcoming special elections in Georgia. But their best chance for an outright Senate majority ended when Cunningham lost in North Carolina and Sen. Susan Collins won in Maine.

Families sue California over remote learning pandemic measures

A student works on his laptop in his socially distanced protective learning pod at a remote learning hub in Culver City, California. Photo: Mario Tama via Getty

Seven families filed a lawsuit in California Monday, alleging that the state has failed to ensure "basic educational equality" during the pandemic, which has forced millions of students into remote learning.

Why it matters: Remote learning puts students of color and low-income students at greater disadvantages, reports show. As the U.S. continues to debate the issue of reopening schools, it's the marginalized students who are suffering the costs.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

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