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GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy: AOC "runs the floor" for House Democrats

Days after Republicansdefied expectations by picking up seats in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy cited a junior member of Congress — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) — as one of the reasons he was able to raise so much money.

Driving the news: "Well, she runs the floor," McCarthy told "Axios on HBO" last night when asked why Republicans respond so vociferously to AOC.

  • "That wing of the party, the socialist wing of the party, they are the new power of the Democratic Party. ... You watched on the floor. Legislation couldn't be passed unless AOC agreed with it."

Why it matters: House Democrats underperformed Biden in down-ballot races across the country and they're scrambling to figure out why.

  • Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) said she wouldn't run for re-election as chair of House Democrats' campaign arm after a heated caucus call last in which one moderate member warned her colleagues: "We need to not ever use the words socialist or socialism ever again."

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the top African-American lawmaker in the House, had a similar message, telling "Axios on HBO": "Stop sloganeering. Sloganeering kills people. Sloganeering destroys movements."

  • "This foolishness about you got to be this progressive or that progressive. That phrase "defund the police" cost Jaime Harrison tremendously. I'm not sayin' it was the only problem," Clyburn told Alexi McCammond, acknowledging that he was angry.
  • "When you ask somebody, 'Why would you want to defund the police?' They'll tell you, 'That's not what we mean. This is what we mean.' My position is in politics, the moment you start explainin' what you mean, you are losin' the argument."

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) defended his colleagues in the Progressive Caucus, saying it's "normal" and "healthy" to have disagreements in a big-tent party — while pushing back on the idea that slogans like "defund the police" are the reason Democrats lost.

  • "Eighty-something percent in the exit polls said they trusted Donald Trump more on the economy than they trusted the Democrats. That's a sobering, shocking statistic," Khanna told Jonathan Swan. "They trusted us on everything else."
  • Khanna added that he believes the role of progressives in a reduced majority will be to continue to vote and build consensus on ideas like Medicare for All, even if they have no chance of making it through a GOP-controlled Senate.
  • "I view politics as a long game. And I think we have to push for wins on our policies, not compromise on them, while at the same time looking for what we can do in the here and now."

Biden's presidency will have a bleak start

A dim, gloomy scene seems increasingly set for Joe Biden's debut as president.

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Apps are helping people of color stop deadly police encounters

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

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Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

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Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order

Counties around the San Francisco Bay Area will adopt California’s new regional stay-at-home order amid surges in cases and ICU hospitalizations, health officials said Friday.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity. Despite the Bay Area’s current 25.3% ICU capacity, health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley are moving ahead with a shelter-in-place mandate in the hopes of reducing risk.

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Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the COVID-19 vaccine approval process

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing two emergency use authorization requests for COVID-19 vaccines, with an outside advisory committee scheduled to meet next Thursday to review data from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with former FDA commissioner Rob Calif about the EUA process, the science and who should make the final call.

The U.S. economic recovery needs rocket fuel

Data: BLS. Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's deeply disappointing jobs report should light a fire under Congress, which has dithered despite signs the economy is struggling to kick back into gear.

Driving the news: President-elect Biden said Friday afternoon in Wilmington that he supports another round of $1,200 checks.

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