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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.

Go deeper

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.