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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2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate readies for final infrastructure vote

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is seen discussing the infrastructure bill with reporters on Thursday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed cloture on the Senate's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday night, setting it up for a final vote in his chamber as early as Saturday.

Why it matters: The bill's expected passage will be a major victory for Congress and the Biden administration, especially given the current level of polarization in Congress.

NBA player Enes Kanter won't stop denouncing Turkey despite arrest warrants

Enes Kanter (C), playing for the Portland Trail Blazers against the Denver Nuggets in in Portland, Oregon, in May. Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

NBA player Enes Kanter said Thursday he would continue to denounce President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over human rights abuse reports in Turkey despite discovering that the Turkish government had issued nine warrants for his arrest.

Driving the news: Kanter is wanted in Turkey for defamation and terrorism offenses, according to documents dated July 12 and obtained by monitoring group, the Nordic Monitor.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Top labor leader Richard Trumka dies unexpectedly at 72

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who led the largest federation of unions in the country for over a decade, has died at 72.

The big picture: Trumka began working as a coal miner in 1968 and would go on to dedicate his life to the labor movement, including as president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO beginning in 2009.

3 hours ago - Sports

Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya arrives in Poland

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya seen in Warsaw on July 5. Photo: Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya arrived in Warsaw on Wednesday evening and met with her husband on Thursday, days after refusing national team orders to fly home amid concerns for her safety.

Driving the news: The 24-year-old Olympian received a humanitarian visa from Poland after deciding to defect from her home country when she received a phone call from her grandmother telling her not to return, Reuters reported.

Biden signs bill awarding Congressional Gold Medals to officers who responded to Jan. 6 attack

President Biden, joined by Vice President Harris, lawmakers and members of law enforcement and their families, signs legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement in the Rose Garden. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden signed legislation awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Why it matters: The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress' "highest expression of national appreciation," notes the New York Times.

Blinken tells diplomats State Department lacks answers for "Havana syndrome"

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 5. Photo: Saul Loeb/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a letter obtained by NBC News that the Department of State lacks answers for the cause of and treatments for unexplained health incidents that have affected U.S. diplomats working in multiple countries.

Why it matters: As many as 200 Americans who worked in overseas posts have said they experienced symptoms consistent with "Havana Syndrome," which has been used to describe mysterious brain injuries suffered by embassy staff.

5 hours ago - Health

S.C. Rep. Norman tests positive for COVID in breakthrough case

Ralph Norman. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republican Rep. Ralph Norman confirmed Thursday that he has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the second member of South Carolina's delegation to contract a breakthrough case.

Why it matters: Norman is one of a number of GOP lawmakers who refused to wear a face mask on the House floor in May and were subsequently fined.

Cuomo says he'll cooperate with impeachment investigation

Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Thursday said it would cooperate with the state Assembly's request for evidence as part of its impeachment investigation, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Cuomo has denied the findings of an independent report from the New York Attorney General investigating sexual harassment allegations against him.

FAA urges airports to help with unruly passengers, end to-go alcohol

Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday urged airports to discourage the sale of "to-go" alcohol and help put an end to the rise of assaults on flight attendants.

Why it matters: The FAA has received 3,715 reports of rowdy passengers so far in 2021, with more than 70% of incidents related to the mask requirement on flights.

Education secretary: Don't let "politicization" disrupt efforts to reopen schools

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Thursday warned Americans not to let politics get in the way of schools safely reopening.

Why it matters: Some states have barred mask mandates, which Cardona said could impact students, faculty and staff as they return to school this fall. Such policies don't put students' needs "at the center," he added.

In photos: Dixie Fire devastates "beloved" northern California town

Businesses burn as the Dixie fire tears through downtown Greenville, California on Aug. 4. Photo: Jash Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Officials in the northern California town of Greenville on Thursday said they were at a loss for words to describe the widespread destruction left by the massive Dixie Fire, which razed businesses and homes Wednesday night.

What they're saying: "Our beloved small town of Greenville, CA faced our biggest nightmare," Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss wrote on Facebook. "Our historical buildings, families homes, small businesses, and our children's schools are completely lost."

DOJ investigating city of Phoenix and Phoenix police department

Phoenix Police confront demonstrators in 2017. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced in a press conference Thursday it is opening a "pattern or practice" investigation into the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department.

Driving the news: The Justice Department's probe comes after the Biden administration reversed a Trump policy of not investigating police departments. It looks into several possible violations exhibited by the city's police department:

Graham says he urged Trump "to be aggressive" about COVID vaccine

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who recently tested positive for COVID-19, told AP on Thursday that he's urged former President Trump "to be aggressive and say, 'Take the vaccine'" to increase vaccination rates.

The big picture: Some Republicans have pushed Trump, who was vaccinated in January, to become more vocal in pushing his supporters to get the vaccine.

Texas Gov. Abbott announces special legislative session to push voting restrictions

Photo: Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced a special legislative session for this weekend after Texas Democrats fled the state to prevent Republicans from passing new voting restrictions.

Why it matters: Democrats who fled the state last month will have to decide whether to stay out of the state for another month or return and risk arrest when they return.

Scoop: Dem fundraising platform ActBlue boots Cuomo

Protesters in New York City against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and for a moratorium on evictions, Aug. 4. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue has removed a donation page that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign committee used to solicit contributions, the company confirmed to Axios.

Driving the news: ActBlue is the lifeblood of grassroots Democratic fundraising. Its decision to cut off Cuomo following damning allegations of sexual harassment and assault deals a body blow to what's left of his political future.

Civil rights leaders plan a day of voting rights marches

Martin Luther King III and Rev. Al Sharpton. Photo: Cheriss May/Getty Images

Civil rights leaders from Washington to Phoenix are planning marches on Aug. 28 to push Congress to pass new protections around voting rights.

Why it matters: A landmark voting rights proposal remains stalled in the U.S. Senate, as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and other moderates block efforts at filibuster reforms to advance a bill held up by Republicans.

Latinos twice as likely as white people to die from gunfire

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Data: Violence Policy Center; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Nearly 3,000 Latinos each year have died from gunfire in the United States over the last two decades, making them twice as likely to be shot to death than white non-Hispanics, according to a study from the Violence Policy Center.

By the numbers: Almost 70,000 Latinos were killed with firearms between 1999 and 2019, 66% of them in homicides, according to the center’s data analysis.

Biden offers temporary "safe haven" for Hong Kongers in U.S.

Hong Kong protesters wave American flags outside the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong in 2019. Photo: Kyle Lam/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Thursday directed the Department of Homeland Security to defer the removal of Hong Kong residents currently in the U.S. for 18 months, offering a "safe haven" to those who fear returning home.

Why it matters: The move, which could potentially extend the stay of thousands of Hong Kongers in the U.S., is the latest step the Biden administration has taken in response to Beijing's crackdown on democracy in the semi-autonomous territory.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
13 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats seek $500 billion in damages from fossil fuel companies

Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images

High-profile progressive Senate Democrats have expanded their climate wish list for the multitrillion-dollar package the White House and Democratic leaders hope to move via budget reconciliation.

Driving the news: Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is leading a push for $500 billion in fees over 10 years from large fossil fuel companies — with a big chunk hitting Big Oil — to help finance climate initiatives.

Bill Gates says it was a "huge mistake" to spend time with Epstein

Microsoft founder Bill Gates told CNN on Wednesday that he regrets spending time with Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire financier who was accused of child sex trafficking.

Driving the news: "It was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of being there," Gates told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Exclusive: Poll finds bipartisan infrastructure plan has wide support

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Reproduced from Climate Power and Data for Progress; Chart: Axios Visuals

The bipartisan infrastructure plan and many of its individual provisions, enjoy majority of support among likely voters, according to new polling from the advocacy group Climate Power and the left-leaning polling firm Data for Progress, provided first to Axios.

Why it matters: The bill, which contains billions for modernizing the electrical grid, making communities more resilient to climate disasters and boosting electric vehicles, needs at least 10 Republican votes to pass in the Senate.

17 hours ago - Axios Tampa Bay

Biden and DeSantis snipe over Florida's COVID response

President Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis talk about the collapse of the condo building in Surfside, during a briefing in early July. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

During a week when Florida has seen COVID cases and hospitalizations break records, Gov. Ron DeSantis blamed the spike on a "seasonal pattern" and "media hysteria."

  • His latest target: President Biden not securing the border with Mexico.

State of play: At a press conference in Panama City yesterday, DeSantis claimed that Biden is "facilitating" the virus by allowing "hundreds of thousands of people pouring across [the U.S.-Mexico border] every month."

Scoop: Inside a Kamala Harris crisis dinner

Vice President Harris boards Air Force Two in Mexico City in June. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

A group of the Democratic Party's most influential women met for dinner at a home in the nation’s capital last month to game out how to defend Vice President Kamala Harris and her chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, against a torrent of bad press.

Why it matters: It's telling that so early in the Biden-Harris administration, such powerful operatives felt compelled to try to right the vice president's ship.

Holocaust comparisons by anti-vax movement denounced

An anti-vaccine protester wears a Star of David at a Oregon State Capitol demonstration. Photo: John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jewish groups are condemning the use of Holocaust comparisons by people opposing coronavirus vaccination and mask-wearing.

The big picture: Cities across the country are seeing protests against vaccination and masking requirements amid a surge in COVID-19 cases thanks to the Delta variant and pressures to reopen schools and businesses.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden, top automakers aim for 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House on Thursday is unveiling draft mandates and aspirational targets aimed at drastically cutting vehicle carbon emissions and accelerating the shift to electric models.

Why it matters: Transportation is the largest source of U.S. emissions.

Wealthy people are renouncing American citizenship

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The number of Americans who renounced their citizenship in favor of a foreign country hit an all-time high in 2020: 6,707, a 237% increase over 2019.

Between the lines: While the numbers are down this year, that's probably because many U.S. embassies and consulates remain closed for COVID-19, and taking this grave step requires taking an oath in front of a State Department officer.

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

"Not patriotism": Sentencing judges rebuke Capitol rioters

Judge Amy Berman Jackson at the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A federal judge sentencing a Michigan man in D.C. Wednesday over his role in the U.S. Capitol riot dismissed any notion that he's a political prisoner.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that she wasn't sentencing Karl Dresch, of Calumet, "because he is a supporter" of former President Trump, noting that "millions of people" had voted for him "and did not heed his call to descend on the nation's Capitol," per the Detroit News.

Landlords mount legal challenge to Biden admin's new eviction moratorium

President Biden at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A group of landlords and real-estate companies issued a legal challenge on Wednesday night in a D.C. district court to the Biden administration's new national eviction moratorium.

Driving the news: The Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors' emergency motion argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's order Tuesday barring evictions for most of the U.S. through Oct. 3 exceeds the CDC's powers, according to a statement from the National Association of Realtors.

Updated Aug 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. blocks Fiji fishing boat, alleging forced labor

Photo: Azwar Ipank/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday it barred a commercial fishing boat from bringing tuna and other seafood into the United States, citing the Fiji-based boat operator's use of forced labor.

Driving the news: The agency accused Hangton No. 112, a long-liner, of committing "modern-day slavery" by withholding workers' wages, keeping their identity documents and forcing them into debt bondage.

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