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Tom Steyer during his press conference about 2018 in D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Tom Steyer is spending $30 million on House races to help progressive Democrats get elected. He's not running for office in 2018, despite wide speculation that he’d make a bid for California governor or for the U.S. Senate.

Why it matters: Although Steyer said he won't endorse any specific Democratic candidates, his movement could inevitably elevate certain Democrats over others because he's focusing on promoting progressives and progressive policies. And that matters because as Steyer told me, "We have tried not to engage in Democrat-on-Democrat [races] because we feel like it’s enough of a struggle to beat Republicans."

One example of a contentious Dem-on-Dem race is for California's U.S. Senate seat.

  • Kevin de León has emerged as an outspoken, progressive challenger to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is seeking re-election.
  • But Steyer was careful not to say he's intervening in any Democratic primaries this year.
  • "I understand that there are going to be times when there’s a fight within the party," Steyer said, adding that it's too early to tell what will happen between de León and Feinstein. "We feel as long as they’re good Democrats then we will try to stay out of it."

What he's doing:

  • Steyer is putting $30 million in his organization's youth voter program, NextGen America, to mobilize millennial voters and encourage them to vote for progressive candidates and policy issues.
  • His efforts will focus on 10 states (Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and he specifically mentioned "sending the likes of Paul Ryan, Darrell Issa and Barbara Comstock back home."
  • A GOP strategist involved in House campaigns told Axios of Paul Ryan's re-election: "This is not a competitive race. Paul won re-election by 30+ points last year and has been re-elected comfortably since 1998. "
  • Steyer's "Need to Impeach" campaign, which has received at least 4.1 million signatures, will continue and expand. He bought 535 copies of Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" book for every member of Congress, and he told me he's personally delivering a copy to his congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi.

What to watch: Some Democratic lawmakers (like Pelosi and Feinstein) have already expressed concern about Steyer’s impeachment campaign or refused to support it. Now that Steyer is getting involved in House races, look for Democratic candidates who might start openly supporting the idea of impeaching Trump (like de León), as well as how Steyer's push for a progressive platform could end up elevating one Democratic candidate over another.

Go deeper

Scoop: CDC lets child migrant shelters fill to 100% despite COVID concern

Intensive care tents at overflow shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control is allowing shelters handling child migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border to expand to full capacity, abandoning a requirement they stay near 50% to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The fact the country's premier health advisory agency is permitting a change in COVID-19 protocols indicates the scale of the immigration crisis. A draft memo obtained by Axios conceded "facilities should plan for and expect to have COVID-19 cases."

8 Senate Democrats vote against adding $15 minimum wage to COVID relief

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Eight Democratic senators on Friday voted against Sen. Bernie Sanders' amendment to ignore a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian and add a $15 minimum wage provision to the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

The state of play: The vote was held open for hours on Friday afternoon — even after every senator had voted — due to a standoff in negotiations over the next amendments that the Senate will take up.

CDC: Easing mask mandates led to higher COVID cases and deaths

Customer at a supermarket chain in Austin, Texas. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Easing mask restrictions and on-site dining have increased COVID-19 cases and deaths, according to a study out Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The report's findings converge with actions from governors this week easing mask mandates and announcing plans to reopen nonessential businesses like restaurants.