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Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

  • Avril Haines was confirmed as director of national intelligence on Wednesday, making her the first woman to serve as head of the U.S. intelligence community.
  • Biden has pledged to make his Cabinet the most diverse in U.S. history.

The big picture: Austin was the first Black general to command a theater of war in Iraq, first to serve as the commander of U.S. Central Command, and first to hold the title of vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army.

  • During his confirmation hearing, Austin pledged to address white supremacy and extremism within the military, saying he would "rid our ranks of racists" and ensure that military leaders understand that any sort of extremist behavior is unacceptable.
  • He also testified that he plans to ensure the Pentagon does "everything we can" to assist in vaccine distribution and guarantee that troops get inoculated, per AP.

Between the lines: Both chambers of Congress voted Thursday to grant Austin a waiver from a law that requires officers to be out of the military for seven years before taking on the job, as the four-star general only retired in 2016.

  • Austin is the third defense secretary to require a waiver from Congress to serve, NPR reports, following Gen. George Marshall, nominated in 1950 by President Harry Truman, and Gen. Jim Mattis, President Trump's first defense secretary.
  • Amid bipartisan concerns over abandoning the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon for a second consecutive administration, Austin acknowledged in his confirmation hearing that being a Cabinet secretary "requires a different perspective and unique duties from a career in uniform."

Go deeper: Biden finalizes full slate of Cabinet secretaries

Go deeper

Hispanic congressmen push for purge of Confederate renaming panel

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro wears a face mask during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill on September 16, 2020. PHOTO: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Two Hispanic congressmen, Reps. Joaquin Castro and Ruben Gallego, are asking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to remove Trump loyalists from a panel charged with renaming 10 Army bases that honor Confederate leaders.

Why it matters: The request, outlined in a letter Friday written by Castro and Gallego, comes as the Biden administration purges remaining Trump-era appointees and as Hispanic and Black leaders demand that some Army bases be renamed after people of color.

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Epic's long game against Apple

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Epic's Apple lawsuit is costing the company dearly, but the game developer has its eye on a valuable long-term goal: prying tomorrow's virtual worlds loose from the grip of app store proprietors like Apple.

Between the lines: Epic isn't spending a fortune in legal fees and foregoing a ton of revenue just to shave some costs off in-app purchases on today's phones. Rather, it's planning for a future of creating virtual universes via augmented and virtual reality — without having to send a big chunk of their economies to Apple or Google.