Saturday’s top stories

Pelosi, McConnell homes vandalized

Pelosi and McConnell leaving the Capitol in July 2020. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

Vandals defaced the homes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) with graffiti after Congress failed to pass a standalone measure to increase coronavirus relief, AP reports.

Why it matters: Senate Republicans refused to allow debate on a bill passed by the House to increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 despite calls from President Trump for increased payments.

Jan 2, 2021 - World

Iran plans to resume 20% uranium enrichment

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani during a press conference on Jan. 2. Photo: Presidency of Iran/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran announced Saturday its atomic energy agency will begin enriching uranium up to 20% at its underground Fordow nuclear facility β€” a level of enrichment exceeding regulations set by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, AP reports.

Why it matters: The resumption of enriching uranium to pre-nuclear deal levels would bring the country's nuclear program closer to being capable of producing the levels of enrichment needed for nuclear weapons.

Listen to β€œAxios Re:Cap”
"Amazon Unbound" author Brad Stone on what Jeff Bezos does next, and how he found the woman who voices Alexa.
Jan 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Multiple senators oppose certifying election results

Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A growing number of Republican senators β€” led by Ted Cruz β€” announced today they also will object to certifying state Electoral College votes on Wednesday and called for resurrecting an Electoral Commission to conduct an emergency audit of the results.

Why it matters: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had hoped to avoid the spectacle of his party leading a last-ditch effort to prevent Joe Biden from being declared the 2020 election winner, but Josh Hawley of Missouri said he would raise a general objection and now other Republican senators plan to air more specific grievances.

Trump, the GOP arsonist

President arrives on Marine One on the South Lawn on New Year's Eve. Photo: Ken Cedano/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Trump is torching his own party and its leaders on his way out of power β€” and tossing gas on the fire with a public call for mass protest next week and a vote to overturn his defeat.

Why it matters: Trump is demanding Republicans fully and unequivocally embrace him β€” or face his wrath. This is self-inflicted, self-focused β€” and dangerous for a Republican Party clinging to waning Washington power.

Erica Pandey, author ofΒ @Work
Jan 2, 2021 - Economy & Business

Private schools pull students away from public schools

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Private institutions are attracting wealthy families who are frustrated with public schools' flip-flopping on remote and in-person learning.

Why it matters: The trend is weakening public schools, which will lose funding as they lose students, and deepening the divide between how rich and poor kids are educated.

He/she could be they in the new Congress

The symbol for gender-neutral restrooms at a facility in South Africa. Photo: Michele Spatari/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to rewrite its rules β€” swapping out male and female references like "he" and "she" for gender-neutral terms β€” in a diversity and inclusion push by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that's drawing scorn from Republicans.

Why it matters: The proposal comes as transgender and non-binary candidates are being elected around the country, progressives are gaining influence in the Democratic politics and U.S. schools and companies are adjusting policies and language to reflect society's changing views on sexuality and gender identification.

Big Tech's bundle of lawsuits β€” and record valuations

Data: Axios research. Table: Sara Wise/Axios

Two sets of data forΒ 2020 show Big Tech's split-screen reality of cascading investigations on one side and surging valuations on the other.

Why it matters: Technology companies have never been under more regulatory scrutiny. But it so far hasn't impacted their growth or spooked investors.

Congress overrides Trump's veto of defense spending bill

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Congress handed President Trump a rare blow on Friday when the Senate joined the House in voting to override his veto of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Why it matters: The bipartisan New Year's Day legislative rebuke is the first veto override of Trump's presidency. It comes less than three weeks before Trump leaves office and underscores the popularity of the military legislation, passed each Congress since 1967, that includes increased pay for troops.

Mike Allen, author ofΒ AM
Jan 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell slaps back Trump β€” repeatedly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell departs the Capitol on Dec. 11. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

It took four years and an election defeat. But someone with real power inside the Republican Party is standing up to β€” and swatting back β€” President Trump: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Why it matters: This is a preview of the power struggle that will define the Republican Party in 2021.

What we're watching in 2021

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new phase in the battle against the coronavirus and the beginning of Joe Biden's presidency will dominate the news this year, but there will be plenty of other changes ahead that will shape our lives, too.

  • Here’s what Axios’ newsletter authors and expert reporters will be watching β€” from the future of the economy and Big Tech's antitrust fights to the next stages in developing artificial intelligence and biotechnology. (Sign up for their newsletters here.)
Felix Salmon, author ofΒ Capital
Jan 1, 2021 - Economy & Business

Post-Brexit Britain arrives

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It took two general elections, three prime ministers, and just over 4 1/2 years, but as of today Britain finally has the Brexit it voted for in June 2016.

  • It's not a pretty sight.

The big picture: Britain has left Europe's single market and customs union, and is no longer governed by European law.

Jan 1, 2021 - World

In pictures: The world rings in the new year amid a pandemic

New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over the Chao Phraya river during the fireworks show in Bangkok. Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

People around the world on Thursday held celebrations to end the year and welcome a new β€” and hopefully better β€” one.

Why it matters: 2020, ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, economic upheaval and natural disasters, is finally behind us.

NYSE to delist three Chinese companies on U.S. executive order

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The New York Stock Exchange announced late on Thursday that it will delist three Chinese companies to comply with an executive order that imposed restrictions on firms the U.S. identified as being affiliated with the Chinese military.

Why it matters: The announcement, coming late on New Year's Eve when many aren't paying attention, is the latest escalation in tensions between the U.S. and China.