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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.

Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.

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