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VP Harris: Trump left "no national strategy" for COVID vaccinations

Vice President Harris told mein a backstage conversation for "Axios on HBO" that the Trump administration had "no stockpile" of vaccines upon leaving office.

The big picture: "There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations, we were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out," Harris told me at the White House after leading a virtual COVID event with African-American mayors.


  • "In many ways, we are starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost an entire year."

Harris said she constantly pushes her team on the question: "Can we do more? Where is there capacity to do more?"

  • "The suffering," she said, "is so immense in terms of both the public health crisis, the number of people who have died, the number of people who've contracted it, and the economic crisis."
  • "So we are in the midst of a hurricane that is still raging, which requires us — each one of us who's in a position of leadership — to ask constantly, 'Are we doing enough?'"
  • "We've got to figure out a way — that has to be our standard. Our standard has to be: 'Everything is possible, but we're going to have to work like heck to get it done.' Which means ... no patience for delay, no patience for, 'It can't be done.' You know, that's how I feel about it."

Asked what her signature issue will be, Harris said with laughter: "Making sure Joe Biden is a success."

  • I asked her with the trademark question of the late New York Mayor Ed Koch: "How'm I doing? "
  • "It's three weeks in," Harris replied with a laugh. "Give me a break!"

As Harris left, I asked her if her predecessor, Vice President Mike Pence, had left her a note.

  • She said he had, but left the details as a cliffhanger.
  • I'm told that Pence left the note in the Vice President’s West Wing office. It was Midwestern friendly: He said it had been the honor of a lifetime to serve in the job — and wished Harris the best for her own success.

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

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Why fears of a SPAC bubble may be overblown

The SPAC surge continues unabated, with 10 new ones formed since Wednesday morning. And that's OK.

Between the lines: There are growing concerns that retail investors are about to get rolled, with smart sponsors taking advantage of dumb money.

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Schumer says Democrats are "delighted" Ron Johnson is forcing relief bill to be read out loud

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) of going to "ridiculous lengths" to show his opposition to a COVID relief package widely supported by the American public, after Johnson demanded that the entire 600-page bill be read on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Johnson's procedural move will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate, during which Republicans will propose amendments to force uncomfortable votes for Democrats. Schumer promised that the Senate will stay in session "no matter how long it takes" to finish voting on the $1.7 trillion rescue package.

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Why gas prices are back up

Data: EIA and FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Gas prices are hitting new post-pandemic highs across the country, but this isn't a story of America reopening. It's really just a function of the price of oil going up.

By the numbers: Gasoline cost $2.71 on average as of Monday, per the Energy Information Administration. The highest average price was $3.59 in Los Angeles, while the lowest was $2.33 in Houston.

  • All of these prices represent the highest level seen since 2019.

The big picture: The price of crude oil reflects more than half of the cost of a gallon of gasoline. (The rest is refinery costs, distribution costs, and taxes.)

  • Demand for oil has actually been declining, per the New York Fed, but supply has been falling even faster, with the result that prices have now topped $64 for a barrel of Brent crude.

What central bank digital currencies mean for crypto

Central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs,represent the ultimate ratification of digital finance: Its adoption by the most venerated guardians of the international monetary architecture.

Why it matters: Crypto-evangelists often talk about CBDCs in awed terms. But it's far from clear that the bitcoin-and-ethereum crowd would ultimately benefit from money going digital.

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Capitol Police asks for National Guard to stay on-site for two more months

U.S. Capitol Police on Thursday asked that the National Guard remain on-site for an additional 60 days due to ongoing security concerns surrounding the building, AP reports.

Why it matters: While many lawmakers are eager for security measures surrounding the Capitol — including fencing and an increased law enforcement presence — to be lightened, the request by Capitol Police reflects concerns about ongoing threats.

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Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

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Leaked government documents spotlight Biden's child migrant dilemma

Fresh internal documents from the Department of Health and Human Services show how quickly the number of child migrants crossing the border is overwhelming the administration's stretched resources.

Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.

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