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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is taking a procedural step to confirm more than 20 of President Biden‘s stalled judicial and ambassadorial nominees without agreement from Republicans.

Why it matters: By filing cloture on nominees Wednesday evening, Schumer made the opening move in a potentially lengthy confirmation process that will start on Friday — and extend into late-night, weekend and potential Christmas-week votes.

  • Schumer has been negotiating with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who's blocked many ambassadorial nominees to force a vote on Nord Stream 2 pipeline sanctions.
  • But without an agreement, Schumer is taking a different procedural track.
  • The ambassadorial nominees he's moving include Nick Burns for China, Rahm Emanuel for Japan, Denise Bauer for France, Julissa Reynoso for Spain and Mark Gitenstein for the European Union.

The big picture: Negotiations between Cruz and Democrats aren’t necessarily over, but the majority leader is indicating he’s willing to use valuable floor time to confirm nominees before the end of the year.

  • Cruz had offered to release 16 ambassadors in return for his Nord Stream vote. Democrats rejected that earlier Wednesday.
  • “If he wants a vote on Nord Stream, he’s got to let them all go,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told Axios.

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2022 - World

U.S. braces for Russian escalation as talks hit “dead end”

OSCE Chairman-in-Office Zbigniew Rau said Thursday "the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever." Photo: Askin Kiyagan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The crisis over Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine entered a dangerous and unpredictable new phase in both Vienna and Washington on Thursday.

Driving the news: Russian diplomats said this week's round of security talks from Geneva and Brussels to Vienna have resulted in a "dead end," and it's time for them to return to Moscow to brief President Vladimir Putin on the "very disappointing" state of affairs before deciding the path forward.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.