Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

White House officials got a rare bit of good news today with the Senate easily confirming Robert Lighthizer as the U.S. trade representative. A White House source told Axios:

It took way longer than it should have to put a clearly qualified person in this post but we're glad it's finally done

Why this matters: Without Lighthizer, Trump couldn't begin to tackle his major trade priorities like renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.) Per the WSJ, "The slowdown has irritated Mexican and Canadian leaders, who say the uncertainty over the region's trade rules has chilled investment."

Lighthizer's creds: Served as deputy U.S. trade rep under President Reagan and in his private sector career as a trade litigator represented major U.S. corporations and coalitions. Steve Bannon loves Lighthizer and views him as an economic nationalist in lockstep with Trump's "America First" campaign platform.

What took so long? John McCain, an internationalist whose antibodies are raised when Trump talks about trade, sought to stall Lighthizer's confirmation earlier this week. A White House source tells me today: "McCain's moves were hardly the only thing Senators were trying to do to stall his confirmation. Democrats spent months on this silly waiver crusade."

Next steps for NAFTA: By law, Lighthizer must first consult with lawmakers before kicking off any trade renegotiation. The White House must then wait 90 days after the consultation before they start talks with foreign trade partners.

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Jeff Sessions loses Alabama Senate primary runoff

Jeff Sessions. Photo: Michael DeMocker/Getty Images

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has lost the Republican nomination for Senate to Tommy Tuberville in Alabama in Tuesday night’s primary runoff, AP reports.

Why it matters: Sessions had been the underdog in the race against former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, who had the backing of President Trump. Tuberville will now face off against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in November, who is considered to have one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in the country.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 13,273,537 — Total deaths: 577,006 — Total recoveries — 7,367,106Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 3,424,304 — Total deaths: 136,432 — Total recoveries: 1,049,098 — Total tested: 41,764,557Map.
  3. Politics: Biden welcomes Trump wearing mask in public but warns "it’s not enough"
  4. Public health: Four former CDC heads say Trump's undermining of agency puts lives at risk — CDC director: U.S. could get coronavirus "under control" in 4–8 weeks if all wear masks.

Bank CEOs brace for worsening economic scenario

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Wells Fargo swung to its first loss since the financial crisis — while JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup reported significantly lower profits from a year earlier — as the banks set aside billions of dollars more in the second quarter for loans that may go bad.

Why it matters: The cumulative $28 billion in loan loss provisions that banks have so far announced they’re reserving serves as a signal they’re preparing for a colossal wave of loan defaults as the economy slogs through a coronavirus-driven downturn.