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Eric Lander speaking in Delaware in January 2021. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate confirmed Eric Lander via voice vote on Friday to serve as President Biden's science adviser and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a top White House science post that Biden raised to Cabinet-level earlier this year.

Why it matters: Lander, whose confirmation was in part delayed from questions about his past meetings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, was Biden's only unconfirmed Cabinet appointment.

Context: Lander, a mathematician and geneticist, met Epstein at what he told BuzzFeed News was "an informal sandwich lunch" to "talk science with various people."

  • He told BuzzFeed in 2019 that he "had no relationship with Epstein" and that he learned about the financier's "more sordid history" after the meeting.

The big picture: The White House told Axios in February that Lander will have to refrain from working on coronavirus vaccine policy until he divests as much as $1 million of stock in BioNTech, which developed a vaccine with Pfizer.

  • In a January letter, Biden asked Lander to "refresh and reinvigorate our national science and technology strategy to set us on a strong course for the next 75 years," Axios' Alison Snyder reports.
  • Biden posed five questions to Lander, including what lessons from the pandemic can be applied to other areas of public health, how science and technology advances can be used to address climate change, and how to protect the "long-term health of science and technology" in the U.S.

Go deeper

Sep 3, 2021 - Health

White House may scale back COVID-19 vaccine booster plan

Photo: Andi Rice/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Top government health officials are warning the White House to scale back a plan to offer coronavirus booster shots beginning Sept. 20, contending that regulators need more time to collect and review necessary data for a third dose, sources confirm to Axios.

Why it matters: Officials are now weighing whether the plan will have to be modified as the Delta variant makes up for the majority of COVID-19 cases in U.S. and hospitals fill up with coronavirus patients, the New York Times reports.

School enrollment fell by almost 3 million from 2019 to 2020

Kindergarten student Natalia Bayoumi holds the hand of her father Amir Bayoumi as he walks to the front door of Normont Elementary School in Harbor City, CA. Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The number of individuals enrolled in the U.S. education system dropped by 2.9 million from 2019 to 2020, according to new data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

Why it matters: This marks the lowest level of school enrollment for those under 35 years-old in over 20 years, per the Census Bureau.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Facebook paying up to $14M to settle employment discrimination claims

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against U.S. workers by reserving positions for temporary visa holders, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The settlement represents the largest civil penalty and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division has recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.