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Katherine Tai before the Senate Finance Committee during her confirmation hearing in February. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate voted 98-0 on Wednesday to confirm Katherine Tai as United States trade representative, a Cabinet-level position responsible for developing and coordinating international trade and overseeing negotiations with other countries.

Why it matters: Tai, the first woman of color to serve in the position, pledged during her confirmation hearings to aggressively enforce the terms of the "phase one" trade deal former President Trump signed with Beijing in 2020, as well as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Background: Tai previously served as the Office of the USTR's chief counsel for China trade enforcement and the chief Democratic trade lawyer for the House Ways and Means Committee. She is fluent in Mandarin.

Between the lines: With White House Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden having withdrawn her nomination, Tai is the only Asian American Biden appointee at the Cabinet level.

What they're saying: "If confirmed, I will work with Congress to ensure that those tariffs are appropriately responsive to China’s practices; account for their impact on U.S. businesses, workers and consumers; and support the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tai wrote in response to congressional questions after her confirmation hearing.

The big picture: Tai did not disclose specific trade policies the Biden administration may pursue, but stressed that it would review existing tariffs and trade negotiations while seeking to strengthen American alliances, according to the New York Times.

  • The U.S. and European Union agreed in early March to suspend the tariffs imposed in the long-running dispute over government subsidies to airplane manufacturers Airbus and Boeing.
  • President Biden has previously said that he would not immediately draw down the tariffs the Trump administration imposed on China, saying he will instead work with allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy" on Beijing.

Worth noting: Tai is the first and only Biden nominee thus far to be unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

Go deeper

Tech's war for your wrist

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech's biggest companies are ramping up competition for the real estate between your hand and your elbow.

The big picture: The next big hardware platform after the smartphone will likely involve devices for your eyes, your ears and your wrists.

1 hour ago - World

Tokyo Olympics to allow up to 10,000 fans at each event

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto (L) and IOC President Thomas Bach on Monday. Photo: Rodrigo Reyes Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics said Monday that venues can be filled up to 50% capacity when the Games kick off on July 23, with a maximum of 10,000 Japanese spectators at each event, AP reports.

Why it matters: Medical experts advising the Japanese government had recommended against allowing fans, citing the low vaccination rates in Japan and the potential for new variants to drive up infections.

2 hours ago - Health

The psychology behind COVID-19 vaccine lotteries

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NBA season tickets. Scholarships. A chance at $5 million. The list of lotteries and raffles states are launching to drive up COVID-19 vaccination rates is growing, and some local officials are already reporting "encouraging" results.

Driving the news: The reason why, some psychologists and public health experts say, is that the allure of lotteries for many people is simply that the prospect of winning a great prize seems better than passing up the chance, regardless of the odds.

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