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House lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that will allow federal authorities to supersede some state standards for self-driving vehicles in an early attempt to avoid a patchwork of regulations that could hinder the prospects of the nascent technology.

What's next: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is expected to announce updated guidance for self-driving vehicles next week. And a group of Senators are working on their own legislative package to tackle the issue. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune said Wednesday that draft text of that proposal could come "by the end of this week."

The flashpoint: Trucks. Senate Democrats are under pressure from labor unions who want them to follow their House colleagues in excluding from their bill commercial vehicles like trucks and buses, where automation could eliminate a significant number of jobs. Thune sounds skeptical. "That's what the Democrats want but at some point we have to address trucks," he told reporters, noting his committee had scheduled a hearing on the trucking issue for next week.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
8 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.