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Photo: Susan Walsh/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate voted 64-33 on Monday to confirm Miguel Cardona as President Biden's education secretary.

Why it matters: Cardona will play a key role in the Biden administration's efforts to safely reopen schools currently closed to in-person learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden has pledged to reopen schools within his first 100 days, but some are skeptical he will be able to meet this goal.

  • In new guidance released last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said school reopenings should be contingent on community transmission rates and should be a priority over restaurants and other nonessential businesses.

The big picture: Cardona won some bipartisan support, vowing to do "everything in our power" to safely reopen schools and address educational inequities, Politico reports.

  • The former Connecticut commissioner of education also promised to expand coronavirus surveillance testing in schools and called for boosting federal relief.
  • The House passed its version of Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package last week, which includes $128.6 billion in funding to help K-12 schools reopen. The Senate could take up its version of the measure as early as this week.
  • During his confirmation hearing, Cardona did not take firm stances on issues beyond the pandemic, such as charter schools and transgender students' rights to participate in athletics.

Background: Cardona, who grew up in public housing and started school speaking only Spanish, served as an elementary school teacher and principal before moving to head the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Go deeper: Biden's promise to reopen schools

Go deeper

Colorado sets timeline for return to normalcy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Colorado officials are starting to offer a picture of what life looks like when the pandemic eases its grip.

Driving the news: More school districts are returning to in-person learning before the end of the school year and the state is considering relaxing its rules for event venues, the Denver Post reports.

Southwest heat wave intensifies, breaks records and worsens drought

A temperature "misery index" shows peak levels across the Southwest (orange and yellow), and the upper air flow shows how the jet stream is being pushed north, away from the heat dome parked over the Four Corners region. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A punishing and long-enduring heat wave is intensifying in parts of the West and Southwest, with heat warnings and advisories in effect across seven states Wednesday. The heat will not relent until late in the weekend.

Threat level: In the coming days, 40 million are likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100 degrees.

Updated 36 mins ago - World

Putin calls Biden summit "constructive," but blames U.S. for tensions

Photo: Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his summit with President Biden was "constructive," and that the countries had agreed their ambassadors would imminently return to their posts in Moscow and Washington.

What he's saying: "Many of our joint positions are divergent but nevertheless I think both sides manifested a determination to try and understand each other and try and converge our positions," Putin told reporters at a press conference following the meetings, according to a translator.