Monday’s top stories

Senate parliamentarian says Democrats could use budget reconciliation again

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough issued an opinion Monday that could allow Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process again in fiscal year 2021, a spokesman for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) said

Why it matters: The opinion increases the number of pathways for advancing President Biden’s agenda without having to end the filibuster.

Scoop: Dem-aligned group launches 6-figure infrastructure push

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A Democrat-aligned advocacy group is kicking off a six-figure campaign backing President Biden's mammoth infrastructure spending measure starting with ads targeting constituents of Sens. Joe Manchin and Susan Collins — the group tells Axios.

Why it matters: The American Working Families Action Fund (AWFAF) is one of the first groups to announce the launch of an independent digital and TV advertising effort aimed at selling the proposal to Congress and the public.

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How Biden has downplayed a week of crises.

Retailers reimagine the reopening wardrobe

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There are early signs that "sweatpants nation" is shrinking as Americans emerge from lockdown, but it's unclear how far back to normal the pendulum will swing.

Why it matters: Retailers don't know whether the pandemic comfy era has forever changed what we want to wear. Billions of dollars worth of retail inventory is on the line.

Minneapolis police chief: Chauvin "absolutely" violated department policies

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo. Photo courtesy of NBC News.

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said Monday "sanctity of life is absolutely vital" when considering the use of force and that former police officer Derek Chauvin "absolutely" violated department policies in his use of force on George Floyd.

Why it matters: In the second week of Chauvin's trial, Arradondo described a departmental culture at odds with Chauvin's behavior when he kneeled on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes.

Arkansas Gov. vetoes bill banning gender-affirming care for trans kids, calling it "extreme"

Gov. Hutchinson. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Monday vetoed a bill that criminalizes gender-affirming care for transgender kids, saying the bill is "a product of the cultural war in America" and a "vast" government overreach and "extreme."

Why it matters: LGBTQ advocates consider the veto a win, although Hutchinson called on lawmakers to "think through the issue again" and take another approach.

Manchin opposes corporate tax hike to 28% in Biden's infrastructure bill

Sen. Joe Manchin. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) forewarned in a radio interview Monday that he will not support a hike in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% as proposed in President Biden's infrastructure bill, adding that there are "six or seven other Democrats that feel very strongly about this.”

Why it matters: The tax hike is Biden's pitch on how to pay for the $2 trillion price tag on his American Jobs Plan. But pushback from moderates like Manchin could kill the bill, as a 50-50 split in the upper chamber has made every Democratic vote a must-have.

  • Manchin said he thinks the corporate tax rate should have "never been below [25%]" and that he would be comfortable with that number.

Between the lines: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that he will fight against Biden's plan, signaling that there will be no Republican support for the measure.

  • And with the filibuster still in place, Democrats will also likely still need to pass the measure through a budget reconciliation process in order to avoid the need for 10 Republican votes, even if the entire Democratic caucus supports it.

What he's saying: "As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed. ... Bottom line is that's what legislation is all about. This bill will not be in the same form you've seen it introduced." Manchin said, adding that Biden's proposal might be broken up into three separate bills.

ER doctor: George Floyd's cause of death most likely oxygen deficiency

The Minneapolis doctor who attended to George Floyd testified Monday that it's more likely Floyd died of loss or deprivation of oxygen than of a heart attack or drug overdose.

Why it matters: Opening the second week of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial, the doctor's testimony challenges the defense's argument that Floyd suffered a heart attack related to the influence of drugs — and not as a result of Chauvin's use of force.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Apr 5, 2021 - World

Putin signs law that would let him stay in power until 2036

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty

Vladimir Putin has signed a law that would let him seek additional presidential terms in 2024 and 2030, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Putin was running up against term limits until proposed constitutional changes were approved via referendum last year. Now he could potentially remain in power until 2036, when he'll be 83.

Go deeper: 20 Years of Putin — from KGB to Kremlin

Apr 5, 2021 - Technology

Supreme Court sides with Google in long-running copyright dispute with Oracle

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Supreme Court handed Google a major victory on Monday, marking an end to a bitter battle between two tech giants over the use of software and copyrights.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court ruled 6-2 Monday in favor of Google in its long-running copyright dispute with Oracle.

Apr 5, 2021 - World

Israel's split screen: Netanyahu on trial as post-election consultations start

Netanyahu arrives in court on Monday. Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty

As the first witness in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial took the stand on Monday, President Reuven Rivlin was consulting with representatives of Israel's political parties as to who should form the next government.

Why it matters: This split-screen moment between the Jerusalem district court and the president’s residence encapsulated the political and legal crisis that has engulfed Israel over the last two years. The crisis appears likely to continue now that a fourth election has ended with no clear winner.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 5, 2021 - Economy & Business

The electric vehicle sales surge

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Tesla's stock was up over 7% in premarket trading this morning after it reported record deliveries in the year's first quarter on Friday. But it's not the only manufacturer seeing sales increases this year.

Why it matters: Even as gasoline-powered sales return from the pandemic, cars with plugs are going faster, albeit from a much smaller base.

Minneapolis police chief expected to testify against Derek Chauvin

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. Photo: Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo is expected to take the stand as soon as today, as testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial continues for a second week.

Why it matters: The city's top cop will tell jurors that Chauvin's "conduct was not consistent" with MPD training and policies, per special prosecutor Jerry Blackwell's opening statement.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Apr 5, 2021 - Economy & Business

How the Fed took control of the economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

To brace the U.S. economy and stave off another Great Depression, the Federal Reserve has taken control of it through unprecedented intervention — manipulating market prices, controlling rates and propping up companies on a previously unimaginable scale.

Why it matters: The U.S. is a market-run, capitalist economy. But the market is ostensibly now governed by an unelected and largely independent group of technocrats that directs it by creating ridiculous sums of money to buy assets.

Apr 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Janet Yellen to call for global minimum tax rate

Janet Yellen in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 26, 2021. Photographer: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Janet Yellen will use her first major address as Treasury secretary to argue for a global minimum corporate tax rate, Axios has learned, as she makes the case for President Biden’s plan to raise U.S. corporate taxes to fund his $2 trillion+ infrastructure plan.

Why it matters: Convincing other countries to impose a global minimum tax would reduce the likelihood of companies relocating offshore, as Biden seeks to increase the corporate rate from 21% to 28%.

Apr 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Soros group pledges $20 million to pass Biden plan

George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations arrives for a meeting in Brussels, on April 27, 2017. Photo by Olivier Hoslet/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Open Society Foundations are pledging $20 million to jumpstart as much as $100 million for a campaign to rally progressives around President Biden's infrastructure and social welfare proposals.

Why it matters: Backing from the George Soros-founded group could serve as an important call to action for Democratic donors and activists who support Biden's initial $2 trillion+ infrastructure plan but want to see him go bigger.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Apr 5, 2021 - Economy & Business

Pandemic fuels staggering teacher shortages across the U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic has pushed teachers out of the workforce in droves, and many schools don't have a strong safety net to fill the gaps as children come back into classrooms.

Why it matters: Teaching has been one of the toughest pandemic-era jobs, with pivots to remote learning and then risk of infection with school reopenings.

Exclusive: 1 in 2 states at risk of "rigged maps," group warns

Expand chart
Data: RepresentUs; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

More than half of the states in the U.S. are at "extreme risk" of congressional districts being drawn to unfairly favor one party, according to a new analysis of state redistricting processes by RepresentUs, a non-partisan advocacy group focused on election reform.

Why it matters: The states at risk of gerrymandering — a process the group says can produce "rigged maps" include battlegrounds like Texas, Georgia, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Apr 5, 2021 - Health

Vaccines may limit the damage from coronavirus variants

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Many public health experts are optimistic that the fourth wave of the coronavirus that the U.S. has entered won't be as bad as the other three — but emphasize that it will still be important to take precautions.

Why it matters: A more transmissible, deadlier variant of the virus the one that originated in the U.K. — is becoming increasingly prevalent across the country, but the U.S.'s extraordinary vaccination effort may blunt the worst effects of this most recent wave of cases.

Column / Harder Line

In uneven economic recovery, climate action risks leaving some behind

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A year ago, almost all of us were grappling with the unknowns of the pandemic. Today, some of us are doing just fine, while others are still reeling.

Why it matters: This split-screen economy, called a K-shaped recovery, highlights the risk facing politicians, including President Biden, as they rally around bold climate action. If new climate laws aren’t inclusive of those less well off in America and around the world, they risk exacerbating inequality.

Apr 5, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech's big D.C threat: the FTC

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While antitrust lawsuits and Capitol Hill hearings get headlines, Big Tech's biggest threat in Washington may come from the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: The FTC is gearing up to flex its muscle, by both enforcing current rules and trying to draft new ones. And it may be able do so relatively quickly.

Updated Apr 5, 2021 - World

India surpasses 100,000 new COVID cases in 1 day for first time

A health worker collecting a swab sample in New Delhi, India, on Sunday. Photo: Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India's Ministry of Health confirmed 103,558 new COVID-19 infections on Monday.

Why it matters: It's the first time the country has reported over 100,000 new coronavirus cases in one day. India is the second country after the U.S. to reach that milestone.

In photos: Stanford beats Arizona to win women's basketball title

The Stanford Cardinal team hug after beatingt the Arizona Wildcats in the National Championship game of the 2021 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Sunday. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Stanford Cardinal defeated the Arizona Wildcats 54-53 in the women's NCAA final Sunday night to win their first national championship since 1992.

Of note: It's the first time the two women's college teams from the Pac-12 had faced each other in the national basketball final.

Billionaires push to derail hedge fund takeover of local newspapers

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Two unlikely billionaires may be close to derailing a massive newspaper deal that would've likely resulted in the loss of hundreds of local journalism jobs across the country.

Driving the news: Maryland hotel magnate Stewart Bainum and Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss have reportedly agreed to put up more than $600 million of their own money to help finance a roughly $680 million bid for Tribune Publishing, the parent to many of America's most iconic newspapers.