Some of the biggest chains in the U.S., including Target and Starbucks, will continue to require masks and limit capacity in Texas and Mississippi after the states lift coronavirus restrictions, Wall Street Journal reports.
Why it matters: The Republican governors' move to reopen "100%" has divided the business community, with some welcoming the decision while others worry about risk of backslide on progress and put workers at risk.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.
Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued an executive order on Wednesday requiring schools statewide to offer in-person learning by March 15.
Why it matters: The order comes as governors across the United States are relaxing coronavirus restrictions despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the rollbacks may be premature.
The Interior Department rescinded a Trump-era policy that the Biden administration says "improperly restricted" the use of science and data, and ordered a review of its "scientific integrity policies," effective immediately, the acting Interior secretary announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: The action is part of an effort to ensure the Interior Department remains a "leader in scientific integrity." The American public's divided trust in science was deemed a foundational crisis that President Biden would need to address to tackle other challenges awaiting him on Day 1 of his presidency, including the pandemic and climate change.
Republican Rep. Tom Reed has begun hiring staffers to work on a campaign for governor of New York, a clear sign he’s nearing a bid, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The drama surrounding incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created an opening for challengers. While it’d be a long shot for a Republican like Reed to win in the heavily Democratic state, many in his party see potential in their rivals' troubles.
States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."
Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday for acting in a way that made women feel "uncomfortable," but insisted that he has "never touched anyone inappropriately" and said he will not resign.
Driving the news: Cuomo reiterated in his first public appearance since sexual harassment allegations surfaced that he will fully cooperate with a team of independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, but suggested that demands for his resignation from were simply "politics."
William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, testified Wednesday that a three-hour delay in approval for National Guard assistance during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was exacerbated by "unusual" restrictions on his authorities by Pentagon leadership.
Why it matters: Walker testified that if Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had not prohibited him in a Jan. 5 memo from using the National Guard's "Quick Reaction Force" without authorization, he would have "immediately" sent troops to the Capitol after receiving a "frantic call" from then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.
One U.S. contractor died of a "cardiac episode" after least 10 rockets hit the Al Asad Airbase in western Iraq hosting U.S.-led coalition troops, a Pentagon spokesperson said Wednesday.
The big picture: It's the first rocket attack since the U.S. launched an airstrike against facilities in Syria associated with an Iran-backed militia group last week, citing recent assaults and "ongoing threats to American and coalition personnel in Iraq.
U.S. Capitol Police issued a statement on Wednesday announcing additional security measures after it obtained intelligence showing "a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4."
Why it matters: Washington, D.C. remains on edge following the deadly Capitol insurrection, with lawmakers continuing to conduct investigations into the security failures that led to the Jan. 6 breach.
Senior House Democrats are floating a big climate bill that's consistent with President Biden's agenda, but it's more of a statement of goals than anything likely to become law as written.
Driving the news: One key pillar is a "clean electricity standard" (CES) that requires utilities to supply 100% of their power from zero-carbon sources by 2035.
The Biden administration's team of climate experts is getting bigger still.
Why it matters: President Biden is vowing a whole-of-government approach that weaves climate deeply into White House decision-making and the work of many agencies.
In some of his most extensive remarks since Jan. 6, former Vice President Mike Pence wrote an op-ed Wednesday condemning House Democrats' sweeping election and anti-corruption proposal as an "unconstitutional power grab" by "leftists."
Why it matters: Pence has largely stayed quiet since the Capitol insurrection, during which rioters were heard chanting "hang Mike Pence" after former President Trump promoted the claim that the vice president could block the certification of the Electoral College.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.
Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.
David Plouffe, an architect of President Obama's winning campaign and specialist in the intersection of grassroots and tech, joins Precision — and co-founders Stephanie Cutter and Teddy Goff — as "of counsel."
What they're saying: Cutter pointed to "David’s experience in creating and driving data-driven strategies and managing integrated campaigns."
Gary Ginsberg — lawyer, corporate executive and former Clinton administration aide — had a three-hour lunch with Vernon Jordan for "First Friends," a book about presidential confidants, out July 6:
Numerous former aides recall with astonishment how over eight years they never saw or heard Jordan ask for anything from Clinton except for one small request — that he attend the 1994 President's Cup golf tournament due to his friendship with Robert Trent Jones ... He never sought time on Clinton's schedule or input on legislation for clients, nor did he seek special favors for himself or his friends. Of course it didn't hurt Jordan's law practice to be known as the First Friend ...
"People think I needed Bill Clinton to be who I was," Jordan said in 2018, spelling out his words: "My L-I-F-E," he continued, "did N-O-T start when Bill Clinton became President."
Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, advocates of changes in police practices are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force.
Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to personally face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage, critics say.
Baltimore is piloting a software program developed by Everytown for Gun Safety that will enable it for the first time to identify patterns of gun trafficking and illegal sales.
Why it matters: If successful, this crime-fighting software — which draws data from multiple systems and connects the dots — could be used to crack down in many cities where gun violence is a big problem.
NIAID director Anthony Fauci gave the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History his personal COVID-19 model Tuesday, as he was honored with the institution's Great Americans Medal.
The big picture: Fauci virtually presented the educational tool, made with a 3D printer, to museum director Anthea Hartig. She praised him in a statement for his "humanitarianism" and "dedication," helping to "save millions of lives" and advance the treatment and understanding of infectious and immunologic diseases. Fauci said in a video the medal was a "humbling honor."
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to a report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.
Driving the news: The Defense Department inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."
The House Committee on Ethics is conducting a review after an independent watchdog unanimously recommended an investigation into allegations that Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) has abused his office.
Why it matters: The Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics found there's "substantial reason to believe" that Palazzo "converted funds to personal use to pay expenses that were not legitimate" — allegations the congressman denies.
The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.
Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.
Vernon Jordan, a civil rights champion in the segregated South who became a political and corporate power broker, has died at 85.
Here's the backstory about a profile I wrote on his 80th birthday, and the window I gained into an incredible American life:
Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.
Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically wounded but not yet dead, several state lawmakers tell Axios.
The state of play: Most are holding their fire and punting to state Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations. They expect the inquiry to be credible and thorough — and buy Cuomo badly needed breathing room.
Progressive Democrats, including two who are Black, are lining up to challenge House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer even before Maryland sets the date for its 2022 primaries.
Why it matters: Recent progressive victories for Reps. Cori Bush in Missouri and Jamaal Bowman in New York, plus the country's changing demographics and post-#MeToo and George Floyd eras, are giving organizers and candidates new hope that the political landscape is changing and rewarding diversity.
Domestic extremists pose a serious threat to the military by attempting to recruit service members into their movement, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday.
Why it matters: Domestic extremism in the military has become a growing concern in recent years, the report notes. It blew into a bigger issue after the Justice Department charged several former and current military members for their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, which the FBI classified as domestic terrorism.
The House Oversight Committee is preparing for a months-long battle seeking to obtain access to former President Trump's financial records, per a legal schedule outline proposed by their counsel Doug Letter on Tuesday.
Why it matters: House Democrats say obtaining Trump's records would "promote transparency, enhance public confidence in the integrity of elected officials including the President, and prevent grave conflict of interests for this and any future presidents."
The Department of Education is planning a national summit in March on how to safely reopen schools, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced in a USA Today op-ed Tuesday.
Why it matters: By announcing the summit, the Biden administration is trying to depoliticize an issue that some of the president's advisers worry will hurt them with suburban parents.
The Senate voted 95-4 on Tuesday to confirm labor economist Cecilia Rouse to chair the Council of Economic Advisers for the Biden administration.
Why it matters: Rouse, dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, is the first Black person and fourth woman to lead the organization, which is responsible for advising the president on domestic and international economic policy.