Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans are looking for ways to attack President Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus despite its huge popularity. One idea they’re testing: target add-ons like an $86 billion pension plan bailout.

Why it matters: Republicans privately acknowledge they failed to successfully define the legislation before it passed. Now the "American Rescue Plan" is becoming a law Americans identify as giving them $1,400 checks and supercharging the economy.

Besides the pension plan item, key provisions the operatives are homing in on:

  • Stimulus checks being sent to inmates and some undocumented immigrants, even though immigrants without Social Security numbers are not eligible for stimulus checks. Go deeper on checks for inmates.
  • Additional aid that went to states and governors despite the fact in some cases their revenue actually increased during the pandemic.

One thing Republicans largely agree on: Don't tie their argument to the economy.

  • Top aides tell Axios they learned their lesson after 2009, when they tried to attack President Obama's rescue package by noting it would boost the national deficit.
  • That messaging failed, largely because during an economic crisis, people are far more worried about getting money in their pockets and see deficit spending as a distant, governmental problem.
  • "We're better off breaking down the bill's progressive wish list and selling that to specific districts," a House Republican leadership aide told Axios. "The more people learn about what's in it, the less they'll like it."

What they're saying: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy plans to include a note every day in his morning letter to members highlighting a "wish list" aspect of the law, his team tells Axios.

  • "A lot of it is probably 5%-10% as needed for COVID. The rest of it? Debatable," Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told Axios.
  • "I think that we have to wait until the public gets all aspects of it instead of just the $1,400, and then that's what our messaging will start," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He added that "90% of the bill had nothing to do with the problem. So they got a lot of stuff done with cover of helping the virus."

The operatives also believe that while a stimulus law is popular when it passes, by the time the election rolls around and people have learned more about what's actually in this, they'll be more turned off to it.

  • Their planning comes as Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take a stimulus victory lap around the country.
  • The lesson the administration took away from 2009: Don't assume the American people know what you did for them, so tell them.

Go deeper

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.

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.

Retail sales flat in April after huge surge in March

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

April retail sales in the U.S. were unchanged from March, which saw a surge revised up to 10.7%, according to the latest Commerce Department report published Friday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has been entering a period of growing optimism in the wake of the vaccine rollout, falling new COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a slowly recovering labor market. Retail sales were up 51% year-over-year compared to April 2020.