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Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing on May 7. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate unanimously confirmed Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown Jr. as Air Force chief of staff in a historic vote presided over by Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Brown, the commander of Pacific Air Forces, is the first African American chief of a military service branch in U.S. history and will sit on the elite Joint Chiefs of Staff.

  • Gen. Colin Powell, an African American four-star general who served in multiple administrations, served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

The big picture: In the midst of mass upheaval over the killing of George Floyd and the treatment of black Americans by police, Brown reflected in a viral video message last week about his position as one of only two African American four-star generals currently serving in the U.S. military.

  • "Here’s what I’m thinking about: I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion — not just for George Floyd, but the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd.”
  • "I'm thinking about ... the equality expressed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I’ve sworn my adult life to support and defend. I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.”
  • "I'm thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn't always sing of liberty and equality. I'm thinking about living in two worlds, each with their own perspective and views."
  • "I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit, with the same wings on my chest as my peers, and then being questioned by another military member: ‘Are you a pilot?’"

What's next: Brown will be tasked with getting the Space Force program up and running, the New York Times reports.

Go deeper

Ben Carson defends Trump against accusations of racism at RNC

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson defended President Trump against accusations of racism at the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

Why it matters: Carson, the only Black member of Trump's Cabinet, has become a loyal ally and defender of the president since running against him in the 2016 Republican primary.

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.