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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.

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

Laurel Hubbard to become 1st openly trans athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, when she became the first openly transgender athlete to represent NZ. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has announced that Laurel Hubbard has been selected for the women's weightlifting team for the Tokyo Games — making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the event.

The big picture: Hubbard, 43, is part of a five-member Kiwi weightlifting team and will compete in the women's super heavyweight category. Meanwhile, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe will become the first openly trans athlete to travel to the Olympics with Team USA, when she arrives in Tokyo as a reserve rider.

American Airlines cuts hundreds of flights amid demand surge

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

American Airlines announced Sunday that it's cutting some 950 flights from its schedule, including 296 this weekend, to reduce potential pressure on its operations, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

Driving the news: The U.S. vaccine rollout has led to a massive increase in travel bookings. The airline noted in an emailed statement that it's facing an "incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand."

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