Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official

Posted 42 days ago


Senators confirmed Avril Haines to be President Biden's director of national intelligence (DNI) on Wednesday, giving him his first Senate-confirmed Cabinet pick.

Senators voted 84-10 to confirm Haines, who appears to be the only Cabinet official Biden will get confirmed on the first day of his administration.

It's a historically small number of Cabinet picks to get through the Senate on the first day of a new administration and comes after Republicans were furious in 2017 when Democrats allowed only two Cabinet picks to be confirmed on former President Trump's first day.

By comparison, former President Obama got six Cabinet picks confirmed on his first day, former President George W. Bush got seven on his first day and former President Clinton got three. Former President Carter got eight, while former President Nixon got 11.

Democrats had been hopeful that they would be able to get some of Biden's Cabinet picks confirmed on Wednesday.

"I'm really hopeful. I know that things will happen as quickly as possible. So there's a lot of promise in these in these coming days. We will get it done," said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally, said the five nominees who had their confirmation hearings on Tuesday were "really capable folks" and that "we should be confirming them today."

Democrats also warned against reading too much into the slow pace of day one confirmations, noting that the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and its subsequent fallout had been historically singular.

“I think there were a lot of things going on up here,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

Whether Biden would get any Cabinet picks confirmed on day one of his administration has been in limbo for weeks and was unclear until hours before the Senate ultimately voted to confirm Haines.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, disclosed on Wednesday morning that he was skipping Biden's inauguration ceremony because he was trying to resolve roadblocks to getting Haines quickly confirmed.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, then said late Wednesday afternoon that he had dropped his hold on Haines's nomination, allowing her to move quickly.

"I was the last person to object to holding that vote. I no longer object," Cotton said from the Senate floor, noting that an unresolved question he had had been resolved.

Each of the "no" votes on Haines's nomination came from Republicans... (Read more)