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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Axios
Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Mike Pompeo shells out for media makeover

Via "Fox News Sunday"

Mike Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training from last March to June — the most on any service beyond payroll during the first six months of 2021.

Why it matters: The former secretary of State hasn't just been losing weight but working to hone his media skills amid speculation about a possible presidential run, records show.

How much the U.S. has spent on aid to Ukraine

Expand chart
Data: ForeignAssistance.gov; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The United States has committed an increasing amount of foreign assistance to Ukraine over the years — with no other European or Eurasian nation receiving more since 2015, according to data from ForeignAssistance.gov.

The big picture: When it comes to military support in particular, the U.S. committed to more than $600 million just last year — and more than $2.7 billion since 2014. With the current threat from Russia, Ukraine — and Congress — are now pushing for more.

39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan infrastructure group takes on election reform

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The bipartisan group focused on updating the Electoral Count Act of 1887 is seizing on this recess period to court senators more freely.

Why it matters: The group is led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and includes many members who helped reach the bipartisan infrastructure deal. They see themselves as the only hope of creating an election reform package able to muster 60 votes in the Senate.

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Businesses brace for April tax bill as BBB stalls

Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With President Biden's Build Back Better legislation on ice, business groups are preparing to change course and use the China competitiveness bill to try to preserve some of their cherished research-and-development tax deductions.

Why it matters: By eying the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) to extend the R&D deductions, companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing are hoping to avoid an estimated $8 billion bill in mid-April.

57 mins ago - Health

N.Y. Supreme Court strikes down Hochul's mask mandate for public areas

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 24. Photo: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A New York state Supreme Court judge on Monday struck down Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul's mask mandate for schools and other public spaces.

Driving the news: Enacting any laws to end COVID "is entrusted solely to the State Legislature," Judge Thomas Rademaker wrote in the opinion.

House ethics panel investigates Rep. Marie Newman for alleged bribery

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) said Monday there is "substantial reason to believe" that Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) offered a job to a potential primary opponent to keep him from running in 2020.

Driving the news: Newman is alleged to have "promised federal employment to a primary opponent for the purpose of procuring political support" and if proved, she may have federal law and House rules. Newman strongly denies the allegations.

Rep. Lamborn may have misused official resources, ethics panel alleges

Rep. Doug Lamborn departs from a news conference held by the House Republican Israel Caucus on May 19, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Congressional ethics investigators said Monday there is "substantial reason" to believe that Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) misused official resources and solicited or accepted improper gifts from subordinates.

Driving the news: Lamborn's aides told investigators they were often asked to run personal errands for his wife, Jeanie Lamborn, and were at one point tasked with helping his son apply for a federal position, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). Lamborn strongly denies the allegations.

Congressional Democrats request classified briefing on Ukraine

Photo: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday separately called for classified briefings on the brewing crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

Why it matters: The move comes as tensions between the two nations continue unabated and a Russian invasion appears increasingly likely.

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

Driving the news: The Biden administration has faced rising inflation rates over recent months, which it has labeled as "transitory."

Georgia prosecutor granted special grand jury in Trump election probe

Former President Trump. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been granted a special grand jury in her investigation of former President Trump's alleged attempt to interfere with the presidential election in Georgia, CNN reports.

Details: A special grand jury will have the power to gather additional evidence and compel more testimony by issuing subpoenas to witnesses.

Virginia AG urges Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Virginia's new Republican attorney general has urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, stating that it is now the state's position that the case was "wrongly decided."

Why it matters: Previously, under a Democratic AG, Virginia had joined 22 other states, and Washington, D.C., in September in arguing that Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban was “unconstitutional.” Attorney General Jason Miyares’ letter marks a notable policy shift in the state from a Democratic to GOP administration.

Lawmakers call on Pelosi, McCarthy to bring stock trading ban to the floor

The U.S. Capitol Building. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Twenty-seven House of Representatives members have signed a letter urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to bring forward legislation that would ban members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.

Why it matters: There has been momentum among lawmakers to prohibit stock trading, as pressure has grown to address one of Washington’s most glaring and persistent financial conflicts, write Axios' Dan Primack and Sophia Cai.

Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial

Sarah Palin. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, delaying the start of her defamation trial against the New York Times.

Why it matters: The trial will be closely watched, as it's a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury.

Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to House proxy voting

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's lawsuit challenging voting by proxy in the House.

Why it matters: The decision leaves in place a way to vote on legislation that many lawmakers see as critical to minimizing the spread of coronavirus in Congress — and one that even critics have taken advantage of.

11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to affirmative action at Harvard, UNC

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a pair of cases challenging the consideration of race in the college admissions processes.

Why it matters: The conservative high court's ruling could determine the future of affirmative action in higher education.

12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Photo: Steve Helber/Associated Press

At least seven school boards have sued Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin over his decision to end the commonwealth’s mask mandate in public schools.

Why it matters: The school boards — including Fairfax County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. with more than 178,000 students — asked for an injunction to prevent the Republican governor from enforcing the order, which leaves masking decisions up to parents and went into effect on Monday.

16 hours ago - World

NATO sends ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe over Russia threat

Russian military units arrive at a training range in Belarus on Jan. 19. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry/TASS via Getty Images

NATO said Monday it's sending more ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe due to Russia's buildup of troops near Ukraine.

Driving the news: "NATO Allies are putting forces on standby and sending additional ships and fighter jets to NATO deployments in eastern Europe, reinforcing Allied deterrence and defense as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine," per a NATO statement.

Updated 18 hours ago - World

U.K. PM orders inquiry into Muslim lawmaker's discrimination claim

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London last week. Photo: Ian Vogler/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office announced Monday that he's ordered an inquiry into allegations from a Conservative member of Parliament that she was fired from a ministerial job due to her Muslim faith.

Driving the news: Nusrat Ghani told the Sunday Times she was informed by a government whip that she was fired from her position as a junior transport minister in February 2020 after her "Muslimness was raised as an issue" and that her faith made colleagues feel "uncomfortable."

Updated 20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

23 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.

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