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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.

19 mins ago - World

U.N. envoy resumes push for cease fire in Gaza

Tor Wennesland. Photo by KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images

Tor Wennesland, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process , has been holding extensive talks with both Israel and Hamas over the past 24 hours in an effort to restore peace, a diplomatic source tells Axios.

Driving the news: The source said Wennesland spoke on Sunday to Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and other senior Israeli security officials as well as Hamas officials and Egyptian intelligence officials.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky told Fox News Sunday that political pressure had nothing to do with the agency's sudden announcement that fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks in most indoor settings.

Why it matters: Emerging evidence shows vaccinated people are less likely to transmit the virus, as COVID-19 cases and deaths drop. But the responsibility to uphold the abrupt policy change falls to individuals and businesses.

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