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Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Senate voted 49-46 Tuesday to confirm President Trump's nominee to the Federal Communications Commission, setting up the Biden administration to start with a deadlocked agency.

Why it matters: Nathan Simington's addition to the FCC will mean Democrats will lack a majority at the telecom regulator once Joe Biden takes office and will struggle to advance party priorities such as reinstating net neutrality rules.

Catch up quick: Trump nominated Simington from the Commerce Department after revoking the renomination of GOP Commissioner Mike O'Rielly.

  • O'Rielly questioned the FCC's authority to carry out the president's social media executive order aimed at limiting online platforms' ability to moderate content.
  • But Simington, who worked in the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, was involved in the petition to the FCC to implement Trump's order.
  • After the election, observers in telecom policy circles were skeptical that Simington would clear the confirmation process during the lame-duck period, despite pressure from Trump and his allies.

What they're saying: Democrats opposed Simington's confirmation, given his work on the social media order and the resulting deadlock at the FCC.

  • "I think the purpose of confirming this nominee very simply is to deadlock the commission and undermine the president-elect's ability to achieve the mandate the American people have given him and his administration going forward," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a speech on the Senate floor.

Go deeper

The week the Trump show ended

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Donald Trump was eclipsed in media attention last week by President Biden for the first time since Trump took office, according to viewership data on the internet, on social media and on cable news.

Why it matters: After Trump crowded out nearly every other news figure and topic for five years, momentum of the new administration took hold last week and the former president retreated, partly by choice and partly by being forced off the big platforms.

32 mins ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

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