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California Gov. Jerry Brown at an event in San Francisco. Photo: Eric Risberg / AP

On Monday, California's Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would codify Obama-era Title IX guidelines for investigating sexual harassment and assault on college campuses into law. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' is rolling back the regulations, which she called "broken for all students" — including victims and the accused.

Brown's quote, which echoed DeVos' words: "Depriving any student of higher education opportunities should not be done lightly, or out of fear of losing state or federal funding ... It is time to pause and survey the land."

Why it matters

Sexual assault on college campuses is finally being taken seriously as a political issue, but Brown's veto of a bill that passed overwhelmingly in California's state senate — with all 81 Democrats voting "yes" — shows that combating it remains politically divisive.

The facts
  • DeVos announced she would rewrite the Obama administration's Title IX guidelines. One issue she raised was with "ambiguous and incredibly broad definitions of assault and harassment." She said, "if everything is harassment, then nothing is."
  • Her statements drew the ire of activists and women's groups around the country.
  • Rep. Jackie Speier, a California congresswoman, introduced a bill in early October that would preserve Obama-era regulations, per TIME. Speier's proposal would put a lower burden of proof on accusers, which was one of the controversial aspects of the Obama administration guidelines.
  • California's state senate passed a bill — vetoed by Brown — that protected some Title IX guidelines and even extended a number of them to K-12 schools, BuzzFeed reports. The bill was supported by Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system.
  • But Brown said he's "not prepared to codify additional requirements in reaction to a shifting federal landscape." Read his full veto message here.

Go deeper

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.

The deplatforming fight shifts to the courts

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Capitol riot and tech firms' sweeping attempt in its wake to dislodge the online far right are kicking up efforts to have the courts settle knotty questions about online speech and power.

Why it matters: Legal battles could force the people angry at Big Tech to bring more rigor to arguments that have often devolved into messy sideshows.