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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DHS: Extremists may take advantage as U.S. relaxes COVID restrictions

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas issued an advisory Friday warning of threats posed by domestic terrorists and other violent extremists, including those who look to exploit America's reopening.

Why it matters: Mayorkas previously called domestic extremism the "single greatest terrorism-related threat" in the U.S. In January, an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol killed at least five people.

Biden revokes Trump order blocking entry of immigrants who can't pay for health care

Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday revoked a Trump-era executive order that barred the entry of immigrants deemed a "financial burden" on the U.S. health care system.

Why it matters: It's one of several policies under the previous administration that targeted immigrants. Biden has sought to undo his predecessor's actions on the issue since taking office, but has been met with criticism and challenges in recent months.

Biden cancels Trump's "National Garden of American Heroes"

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Friday abolished the Trump-formed task force to create a new monument, the planned "National Garden of American Heroes."

Flashback: Former President Trump cited "dangerous anti-American extremism" as a motivation behind the sculpture garden, which he said would be "America’s answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values and entire way of life."

Former OMB nominee Neera Tanden joins White House as senior adviser

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool via Getty Images

Neera Tanden, who withdrew her nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget after several senators voiced opposition, has taken a new role as White House senior adviser, Axios confirmed Friday.

The big picture: Tanden pulled her name from consideration for the Cabinet-level position in March following bipartisan criticism of her past combative tweets.

11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Oklahoma extends early voting as other GOP-led states curb access

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed legislation this week that extends early voting in the state by a day and changes the timeline for voters to request absentee ballots to ensure they are received in time to be counted, the Oklahoman reports.

Why it matters: The measure comes as other Republican-led states, including Georgia and Florida, pass laws restricting voting access.

Bernie Sanders: U.S. must recognize that "Palestinian rights matter"

Sen. Bernie Sanders. Photo: Stefani Reynolds via Getty Images

The United States must encourage an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East and adopt an "evenhanded approach" that recognizes Palestinians and Israelis have a right to "live in peace and security," Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote in a New York Times opinion on Friday.

Driving the news: Violence escalated this week after Israelis intensified efforts to evict Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem. Hamas fired rockets and Israel massed troops, leaving more than 125 Palestinians and seven people in Israel dead.

Ex-Gaetz associate admits to sex trafficking, will cooperate with federal prosecutors

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl) speaks during the "Save America Summit" at the Trump National Doral golf resort on April 09, 2021 in Doral, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Staff via Getty Images

Joel Greenberg, a former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and admitted to a variety of federal charges including sex trafficking a minor, the New York Times reported Friday citing court papers.

Why it matters: Investigators believe Greenberg introduced women to Gaetz for paid sex and are looking into the Florida congressman's alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Greenberg could be a key witness as federal prosecutors decide whether to charge Gaetz.

White House: User fees for infrastructure deal would "violate" Biden's tax pledge

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick-Pool/Getty Images

The White House on Friday said that Republicans' idea to impose user fees for infrastructure spending would "violate" President Biden's promise not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually.

What they're saying: "The president's pledge and his commitment, his line in the sand, his red line, whatever you want to call it, is that he will not raise taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "User fees that have been proposed out there would violate that."

City of Columbus, Andre Hill's family agree to $10 million settlement

Photo: Stephen Zenner/AFP via Getty Images

Columbus, Ohio, on Friday reached a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by police as he walked out of a garage while holding a cellphone.

What they're saying: "We understand that because of this former officer's actions, the Hill family will never be whole," City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement. "No amount of money will ever bring Andre Hill back to his family, but we believe this is an important and necessary step in the right direction."

Video shows Marjorie Taylor Greene harassing AOC in 2019

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

A newly unearthed video obtained by CNN shows Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), then a private citizen, taunting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) outside of her office in Feb. 2019.

Why it matters: In the since-deleted footage, Greene is accompanied by associates, including a man who later became part of the pro-Trump mob that stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, according to CNN.

18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Lawmakers reach deal on bipartisan commission to investigate Jan. 6

Speaker Pelosi outside the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House negotiators have reached an agreement on the parameters of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the "facts and circumstances" surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the House Homeland Security Committee announced Friday.

Why it matters: The formation of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission had been delayed for months, after some Republicans insisted that the scope of the investigation be expanded to include violence by far-left protesters last summer.

All congressional Democrats say they've been vaccinated

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Every Democratic member of Congress said they have received a coronavirus vaccine, while House Republicans are lagging behind in getting vaccinated, according to CNN.

Why it matters: After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks during certain indoor and outdoor activities on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said face masks would still be required in the House until all members and floor staff are vaccinated.

Elise Stefanik elected No. 3 House Republican after Liz Cheney ouster

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) on May 12. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

House Republicans voted 134-46 in a secret ballot Friday to appoint Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) as the chair of the GOP conference, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

Why it matters: Stefanik's appointment underscores how important loyalty to former President Trump remains to the Republican Party.

Tech giants back H-4 visa work authorization in court

Photo:Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Big Tech companies, led by Google, filed an amicus brief in federal court Friday morning in support of the spouses of certain H-1B high-skilled visa holders, whose ability to work in the U.S is being threatened in court.

What they're saying: In the brief, tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Amazon argue that removing the ability of more than 90,000 H-4 visa holders to work, "would result in these talented individuals being barred from the workplace" and "would be utterly destructive for the families impacted."

Liz Cheney: Fox News has "obligation" to tell viewers election was not stolen

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in an appearance on Fox News late Thursday that the network has "a particular obligation" to tell the American public that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen.

The big picture: Cheney's words came a day after House Republicans removed her from her leadership position in the GOP conference following her continued criticism of former President Trump's election lies.

Delaware State University cancels over $700,000 in student debt for pandemic hardship

Photo: Pat Crowe Ii/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Delaware State University announced this week that it will cancel more than $730,000 in student debt for recent graduates who struggled financially during the pandemic.

The big picture: DSU — an historically Black university — used stimulus funds it received from President Biden's American Rescue Plan. The Education Department updated guidance in March allowing institutions to use that money for different needs, including cancelling some student debt, Forbes reports.

Missouri governor cans Medicaid expansion

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson during a press conference in Jefferson City in May 2019. Photo: Jacob Moscovitch/Getty Images

Last fall, Missouri voters approved expanding Medicaid coverage in their state. But Republican Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday the expansion is dead in the water after the state's General Assembly refused to fund it.

State of play: The move to block expansion — estimated to potentially extend coverage to 275,000 additional Missourians — is the latest reminder of how entrenched opposition to the ACA remains in deep-red states.

Ron DeSantis' Newsmax town hall was filled with signs he's eyeing 2024

Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

If it wasn't clear to you before, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has already started his campaign to be president.

The big picture: His hourlong town-hall appearance Wednesday night on Newsmax's "Spicer & Co." from The Villages was loaded with evidence that he's positioning himself for 2024.

Internet prices kick off Washington brawl

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

President Biden's promise to cut the price of Americans' internet bills has provoked a fierce lobbying campaign by cable and telecom companies to prove that the cost of broadband has already dropped.

Why it matters: Internet providers are desperate to fend off any move to regulate the prices they charge, while the government is increasingly viewing connectivity as an essential service.

Crime jumps after court-ordered policing changes

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Most police agencies in recent federally court-ordered reform agreements saw violent crime rates skyrocket immediately, according to an Axios examination of departments under consent decrees since 2012.

Why it matters: The increases in violent crime rates — in one case by 61% — suggest that there can be unintended consequences, at least in the short term, to the policing changes many Americans have demanded in the year since George Floyd's death.

Updated May 14, 2021 - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

DeSantis says he will pardon people who violate COVID-19 restrictions

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) told Fox News that he plans to pardon "any Floridian" who faces "outstanding infractions" for violating COVID-19 guidance like mask mandates and social distancing.

Why it matters: DeSantis, who ended his state's COVID-19 health restrictions on May 3, said Wednesday that the virus-related mandates were a "total overreach."

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

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Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Progressive legal advocacy group spinning off from sponsor

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A leading progressive legal advocacy group is spinning off from the sprawling dark money network that seeded it, the group tells Axios.

Why it matters: Demand Justice's decision to separate from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a "fiscal sponsor" for scores of largely left-wing organizations, will provide the public with its first detailed look behind the curtain of the influential progressive nonprofit.

Biden administration mum on tracking migrant kids

A classroom at an Influx Care Facility for unaccompanied migrant children. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Thousands of migrant children have been released by the Biden administration to caretakers in the U.S. as part of the government's program for unaccompanied minors — but there's little-to-no visibility about what's happened to them.

Flashback: During the Trump administration, there was outrage when a top official told Congress his agency was unable to verify the locations of about 1,500 kids released to sponsors. Today, the agency in charge won't answer questions about its efforts to keep track of these vulnerable children.

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