1/ The CDC said the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. is now the dominant strain in the United States. The variant, known as B.1.1.7, is 50% more contagious than others and now accounts for about 27% of cases in the U.S. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the newer strain is more transmissible among younger people and that new outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to youth sports and day care centers. (NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)
😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~132,776,000; deaths: ~2,881,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,908,000; deaths: ~559,000; fully vaccinated: ~19.4%; partially vaccinated: ~33.1%
2/ Biden signaled that he was open to “good faith negotiations” with Republicans on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, but insisted he would “not be open to doing nothing. Inaction is simply not an option.” When asked if he would consider a lower corporate tax rate than 28%, as his plan currently calls for, Biden replied: “I’m willing to listen to that. We’ve got to pay for this,” noting that there are “many other ways we can do it.” The Treasury Department, meanwhile, outlined a proposed tax increase on businesses that, if enacted, would raise $2.5 trillion in revenue over 15 years, meant to offset the costs of the infrastructure package. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
3/ Biden will announce new executive actions to curb gun violence on Thursday. While the extent of tomorrow’s announcement is unclear, Biden is expected to require background checks on buyers of so-called ghost guns – homemade or makeshift firearms that lack serial numbers. (Politico / CNN)
4/ The U.S. and Iran agreed – through intermediaries – on a plan to try to get both countries back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. During a meeting with the current members of the deal, all parties agreed to establish a working group to focus on how to get the U.S. back to the deal by lifting economic sanctions imposed or reimposed after Trump pulled out of the accord in May 2018. Another working group would focus on how to get Iran back into compliance with the accord’s limitations on nuclear enrichment and stockpiles of enriched uranium. (New York Times)
5/ More than 500,000 Americans signed up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace between mid-February and the end of March. The Biden administration initially opened a “special enrollment period” for everyone on HealthCare.gov for people to buy insurance through May 15. The period was later extended until Aug. 15. (HuffPost)
6/ The National Republican Congressional Committee is warning donors who opt out of recurring monthly donations that “we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.” A tool provided by WinRed, a for-profit Republican donation platform, prechecks the box to enroll donors into repeating monthly donations by default. Donors who proactively uncheck the box are threatened with being labeled a “DEFECTOR.” The prechecked box is the same tactic that the Trump campaign used, which resulted in complaints of fraud to banks and credit card companies. (New York Times)
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