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Congress pushes for manufacturing czar at Biden White House

Senators in both parties plan to push the White House to create a "chief manufacturing officer" who would report directly to President Biden, mirroring representation now enjoyed by science and technology.

  • The idea has endorsements from a whole host of trade groups, representing both industry and labor.

Why it matters: Every modern White House talks about its desire to elevate manufacturing, particularly as America's economy has become more services-oriented.

  • The goal of this bill is to put more meat on the rhetorical bones, including coordination with Congress on lessons learned from the pandemic.

Driving the news: A bipartisan group of federal legislators today will introduce a 43-page bill to create the Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy (OMII).

  • This would be the manufacturing equivalent to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which works alongside (but not under) the National Economic Council.
  • It would initially have five direct employees, although expectations would be to build out the office.

Bill sponsors include Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

  • It also has endorsements from a whole host of trade groups, representing both industry and labor.

By the numbers: U.S. manufacturing has increased in each of the past nine months, with February's PMI hitting its highest mark since August 2018. March manufacturing data will be released this Thursday.

  • U.S. manufacturing employment also has been rebounding from its pandemic lows, but is still over half a million jobs shy of where it was in February 2020.

The bottom line: This bill has bipartisan, bicameral support. But, as we've learned so many times before, its fate may be determined not by its merits or sponsorships, but by what larger piece of legislation it gets tied to.

Czech Republic expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 depot explosion

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbetice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

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Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

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U.S. and China agree to cooperate on climate action, but details remain to be negotiated

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

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"We couldn't do two things at once": Biden defends not immediately raising refugee cap

President Biden on Saturday sought to explain why he didn't immediately lift the Trump administration's historically low refugee cap.

Driving the news: Several Democrats accused Biden Friday of not fulfilling his pledge to raise the limit after it was announced he'd keep the cap. The White House said later it would be raised by May 15. Biden told reporters Saturday, "We're going to increase the number."

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Children of color in rural areas battle deep health care disparities

Living in the nation's poorest, most rural communities can be a death sentence for African American and Native American children.

Why it matters: Lack of health care and healthy food make Black and indigenous childrenin the nation’s most disadvantaged counties five times as likely to die as children in other areas of the country,the advocacy group Save the Children found after analyzing federal data.

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How telehealth can narrow racial disparities

Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Racial disparities have been a constant problem in maternal health care, from rising death rates to the threat of severe COVID-19 among pregnant women. But now experts are hopeful that telehealth can help narrow those disparities.

Why it matters: It's not a complete solution to the racial barriers women of color face. But some experts are optimistic that telehealth — long-distance health care through videoconferences and other technology — can help reduce those barriers by offering flexibility in appointments and better access to diverse providers.

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Capitol Hill's far right pushes Anglo-Saxon values, European architecture

Multiple far-right House Republicans have begun planning and promoting an America First Caucus aimed at pushing "uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions," Punchbowl News first reported.

The big picture: "The document was being circulated as the GOP is struggling to determine a clear direction as it prepares to try winning back control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections," AP writes.

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Super Typhoon Surigae rapidly intensifies to a Cat. 5 near Philippines

Super Typhoon Surigae surged in intensity from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a beastly Category 5 monster on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 180 mph with higher gusts.

Why it matters: This storm — known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines — is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to undergo a process known as rapid intensification, a feat that studies show is becoming more common due to climate change.

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