Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Then-Vice President Joe Biden with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, left, and U.S. ambassador to Italy John Phillips in 2015. Photo: Tiberio Barchielli/Italian Prime Ministry/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Biden is tempering the ambassadorial expectations of his big-dollar donors, signaling he won't hand out plum posts for months and hinting he'll nominate fewer of them than his predecessors.

The big picture: The president embraced the Democratic Party's push for diversity when choosing his Cabinet. Now lawmakers are pressuring him to extend it to his ambassador picks, meaning white male donors — the core of his fundraiser base — will be in serious competition for fewer spots.

What we are hearing: Biden is most likely to reward loyal politicians and former aides, with talk about former senators like Claire McCaskill headed for a gilded post in Europe.

  • On the policy-makers front, Julianne Smith, a former Biden aide, could be nominated as ambassador to NATO.
  • In the donor class, Denise Bauer, Obama's ambassador to Belgium, was a top fundraiser. She could return to Europe, possibly Paris, among the most coveted positions.
  • Doug Hickey, another big Biden donor, also is interested in a foreign posting.
  • James Costos, a former HBO executive who served as Obama’s ambassador to Spain, has expressed interest in the United Kingdom, but many others are interested, including David Cohen, a Comcast executive.
  • Louis Frillman, a real estate investor, and Nathalie Rayes, president of the Latino Victory Project, have told associates they're interested in Madrid or another European post.

The big question: The ambassadorship to China has recently gone to former politicians, giving Beijing the prestige of a big-branded name and the White House the comfort that its envoy will have a political antenna to detect any potential problems.

  • If Biden names Disney executive chairman Robert Iger, who has told Biden officials he’s interested, it would break that mold.

Biden is scheduled, weather permitting, to visit the State Department on Monday, a symbolic showing as he seeks to re-invigorate diplomacy and underscore America’s commitment to allies and partners. He's also expected to deliver remarks about his foreign policy initiatives.

  • While the president certainly will name some donors to top posts, others are getting nervous they’ll be passed over and are feverishly pressing their cases.
  • While more than 800 individuals and couples raised more than $100,000 for Biden's presidential bid, the more elite group of "bundlers" raised well above that amount and also gave the maximum of $620,000 to the Biden Victory Fund.

By the numbers: Biden will likely make non-career nominations for about 30% of the roughly 190 total ambassadorships, leaving 70% for the career Foreign Service, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • That 70:30 ratio would be in line with the traditional breakdown, according to the American Foreign Service Association.
  • President Trump deviated by nominating political ambassadors for about 44% of his appointments.
  • Trump's nominees also skewed heavily non-diverse, with more than 90% of his openings going to those who are white, Foreign Policy reported in 2018.

Go deeper: The political category has always been divided, broadly, into three buckets: policy experts, politicians and donors.

  • Biden is expected to draw more heavily from the first two categories, leaving fewer positions for donors looking to cap a successful business career with a foreign posting.
  • Biden has a sprawling network of Beltway friends and allies but was never that successful — or reliant — on the money and celebrity classes in New York and California.

Go deeper

Police officers' immunity from lawsuits is getting a fresh look

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, advocates of changes in police practices are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force.

Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to personally face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage, critics say. 

The U.S. coronavirus vaccines aren't all the same

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. now has three COVID-19 vaccines, and public health officials are quick — and careful — to say there’s no bad option. But their effectiveness, manufacturing and distribution vary.

Why it matters: Any of the authorized vaccines are much better than no vaccine, especially for people at high risk of severe coronavirus infections. But their differences may fuel perceptions of inequity, and raise legitimate questions about the best way to use each one.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The future of workplace benefits

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pandemic exposed how workplaces across America are inhospitable to parents. But it could also spur companies to make changes.

The big picture: Well over a million parents have left their jobs due to child care responsibilities during the pandemic. Now, companies — large and small — are attempting to reimagine workplace benefits and add flexibility to help those parents come back.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!