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Denis McDonough speaks during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee confirmation hearing. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The Senate on Monday voted 87-7 to confirm Denis McDonough as the secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Why it matters: McDonough, who has not served in the armed forces, was chief of staff for former President Barack Obama. Before taking on that role in Feb. 2013, he served the Obama administration as deputy national security adviser and chief of staff of the national security staff.

The big picture: McDonough will take over the Department of Veteran Affairs as it seeks to ensure the country's 18 million veterans get the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • During his confirmation hearings, McDonough said that Biden has tasked him with focusing "on getting our veterans through this pandemic."
  • McDonough also said that the "Department of Veterans Affairs faces great challenges, challenges made even more daunting by the coronavirus pandemic. Its capabilities have not always risen to the needs of our veterans," per NPR.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden Cabinet tracker: Which nominees have been confirmed

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

All of President Biden's Cabinet nominees have now been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The big picture: Biden now has known, trusted people around him, many from the Obama administration, to help implement his policies and turn away from the tumultuous Trump years.

Feb 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Koch ads urge Biden to pull Afghan troops

Screenshot of forthcoming ad from Concerned Veterans for America. Courtesy photo.

The Koch-backed group Concerned Veterans for America is launching a seven-figure digital ad campaign this week urging President Biden to pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by May, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The ad blitz comes as Biden's national security team is debating whether to delay the withdrawal, amid fears the wrong decision could lead to a resurgence of terrorism and uptick of violence in the country.

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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