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Kelly Loeffler. Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to name Kelly Loeffler as interim U.S. senator has generated lots of political buzz, due to some Trump loyalists claiming betrayal.

Why it matters: The intra-GOP skirmish has obscured the big business story, in that Loeffler will become one of precious few senators with a working knowledge of technology and, in particular, blockchain technology.

Context: Loeffler is founding CEO of Bakkt, an Atlanta-based cryptocurrency custodian and infrastructure company formed in mid-2018 as a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange.

  • Bakkt launched with over $180 million in Series A funding from ICE, Microsoft, Starbucks, Boston Consulting Group, and a raft of blockchain-focused investors.
  • In September it (finally) deployed physically-settled bitcoin futures contracts, to better encourage cryptocurrency trading, and volume keeps hitting new highs.
  • Bakkt also said its early 2020 plans include a consumer-facing app that would enable consumers to buy merchant goods via digital assets.
  • Loeffler isn't a techie by training — she previously led IR and marketing at ICE — but she's a savant by senate standards.

The big picture: The Senate has expressed interest in more clearly regulating digital assets, particularly in the aftermath of Facebook's Libra announcement. And most of the mainstream crypto market would welcome common rules of the road, but are understandably worried that most senators are swimming in ignorant waters.

  • Loeffler won't have too much legislative sway, given her interim status and inherent controversy, but she could become an invaluable asset for both sides of the conversation.

Go deeper:

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Alabama trying to use COVID relief funds to expand prisons

Inside the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., in 2018. Photo: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Alabama state lawmakers are trying to funnel up to $400 million of the state's American Rescue Plan funds to pay for a $1.3 billion plan to build and renovate prisons across the state, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Diverting dollars from the COVID-relief package, passed in March, is prompting criticism over misuse.

2 hours ago - World

Jake Sullivan discussed human rights and Yemen with Saudi crown prince

MBS in 2018. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to end the war in Yemen, the de-escalation of regional tensions with Iran, and Saudi Arabia's human rights record in their meeting on Monday, a senior U.S. official told Axios.

Why it matters: This was Sullivan's first trip to the Middle East since taking up his post in January, and he was the most senior visitor to the kingdom so far from the Biden administration, which has kept the crown prince at arm's length over his roles in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Top Pentagon officials contradict Biden on Afghanistan advice

Photo: Carolone Brehman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Top military leaders confirmed in a Senate hearing Tuesday they recommended earlier this year that the U.S. keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, and that they believed withdrawing those forces would lead to the collapse of the Afghan military.

Why it matters: Biden denied last month that his top military advisers wanted troops to remain in Afghanistan, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "No one said that to me that I can recall."