Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Avril Haines confirmed as director of national intelligence

Haines
Haines. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Image

Avril Haines was quickly confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday as the director of national intelligence (DNI) in a vote of 84-10.

Why it matters: Haines is the first of President Biden's nominees to receive a full Senate confirmation and she will be the first woman to serve as DNI. She's previously served as CIA deputy director from 2013 to 2015 and deputy national security adviser from 2015 to 2017.

  • Among other commitments, Haines has pledged to conduct a public assessment of the threat that the QAnon conspiracy theory poses on American security.
  • She has also committed to releasing the declassified report on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder which the Trump administration previously withheld.
  • Haines will further be tasked with restoring trust in the intelligence community.

The big picture: The confirmation came just hours after Democrats took back the majority in the Senate. Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Alex Padilla (D-Ca.) were sworn-in on Wednesday afternoon.

  • The Senate split is now 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris presiding as the tiebreaker.

What to watch: Secretary of the Treasury nominee Janet Yellen is expected to be another priority for confirmations, with much of the responsibilities for COVID-19 economic stimulus falling on the Treasury.

  • A vote is also expected tomorrow on whether to grant Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin a waiver to serve in the role.
  • Austin needs the waiver because he has not been out of the military for more than seven years.
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