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Ken Salazar. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate early Wednesday morning unanimously confirmed former Sen. Ken Salazar as U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

Why it matters: Salazar is President Biden's first ambassador pick to be confirmed.

  • He will play a central role in managing diplomatic relations with Mexico, as the Biden administration looks to stem the flow of migrants crossing into the U.S. on the southern border.
  • Biden announced Salazar's nomination in June. He had his confirmation hearing approximately a month later.

Background: Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado, served in the Senate from 2005 to 2009. He was then picked by former President Obama to be Interior secretary.

The big picture: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has held up dozens of Biden's other foreign policy nominations over the administration's decision to allow the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany to move forward.

Go deeper

Nov 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democratic senators grill Powell on plan for inflation

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell walks through the Hart Senate Office Building last month. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is facing questions in private meetings with Democratic senators this week about how he plans to counter soaring inflation, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Democrats' intense focus on inflation reveals their concern rising prices are becoming a political liability. It also shows they're looking to the next Federal Reserve chair to devise a strategy to defeat it. President Biden promised to announce his choice as early as Friday.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 min ago - Economy & Business

Charted: GOP surged as Biden slumped

Expand chart
Reproduced from Gallup. (Independents were asked their party leaning.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Gallup polling found a huge shift in party preference over the course of 2021, from a 9-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a 5-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.

Why it matters: It's the biggest swing in one calendar year for Gallup's 30 years of tracking.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
21 mins ago - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.