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

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 TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE'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 BookerCory BookerCongress must act to correct flaws in the First Step Act Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers MORE (D-N.J.).

Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (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 MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress barrels toward debt cliff End the practice of hitting children in public schools Public option fades with little outcry from progressives MORE (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 RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio calls on Biden to allow Naval Academy graduate to play in NFL Florida governor adept student of Trump playbook White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE (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 CottonTom Bryant CottonJon Stewart shows late-night conformity cabal how political comedy is done The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Court fines baker 0 for refusing to make gender transition cake MORE (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: Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Fauci on Blackburn video: 'No idea what she is talking about' Pentagon report clears use of drones made by top Chinese manufacturer MORE (Tenn.), Mike BraunMichael BraunIU parents protest school's vaccine mandates Rick Scott introduces bill banning 'vaccine passports' for domestic flights Braun-McConnell bill would protect Americans from IRS surveillance MORE (Ind.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Ted Cruz says critical race theory is as racist as 'Klansmen in white sheets' Pentagon pulling 'certain forces and capabilities,' including air defenses, from Middle East MORE (Texas), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense: Pentagon details military construction projects getting .2B restored from wall funds | Biden chooses former commander to lead Navy | Bill seeks to boost visa program for Afghans who helped US Meghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Senate bill would add visas, remove hurdles to program for Afghans who helped US MORE (Iowa), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyGOP divided over bills targeting tech giants Pence heckled with calls of 'traitor' at conservative conference Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision MORE (Mo.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (Utah), Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallKansas' Democratic governor set for bruising reelection fight Republicans grill Biden public lands agency pick over finances, advocacy Senate passes resolution urging probe into COVID-19 origins MORE (Kan.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFauci says he puts 'very little weight in the craziness of condemning me' Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Rand Paul does not support a national minimum wage increase — and it's important to understand why MORE (Ky.) and Jim RischJim Elroy RischIran's presidential election puts new pressure on US nuclear talks GOP lawmakers urge Biden to add sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning GOP senators introduce bill to make Iran deal subject to Senate approval MORE (Idaho).

Haines, who has earned bipartisan praise, served in several national security positions under the Obama administration, including deputy CIA director and White House deputy national security adviser. 

She is replacing former Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Five things to know about the new spotlight on UFOs Extraordinary explanations for UFOs look increasingly plausible MORE (R-Texas) who was a political ally of Trump and drew backlash over some of his decisions to declassify intelligence that were viewed as attempts to spread at times unverified information that could hurt the president's political enemies. 

Haines pledged during her confirmation hearing to keep the intelligence community out of politics.  

“To be effective, the DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power, even, especially, when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult,” Haines said in her opening statement. 

She was one of five Cabinet picks who had their confirmation hearings on Tuesday. 

But so far the other four — Treasury secretary nominee Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenOn The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Inflation concerns spark new political fights Irish finance minister seeks compromise on global minimum tax MORE, secretary of State pick Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenKim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US The Senate just passed the next Apollo program Young Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' MORE, Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinBiden to host Afghan president at White House on Friday Biden struggles to detail post-withdrawal Afghanistan plans Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE to be Defense secretary and Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasCanadian ambassador calls for close coordination in handling of US border Harris signals a potential breakthrough in US-Mexico cooperation DeSantis: Florida officers to respond to 'border security crisis' in Texas, Arizona MORE to be Homeland Security secretary — have not yet been scheduled for a floor vote.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said he has placed a hold on Mayorkas's nomination, which will require Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar MORE (D-N.Y.) to eat up days of floor time to get him confirmed. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on Blinken's nomination on Monday, absent a deal to confirm him faster. The House will vote on Thursday on a waiver to allow Austin to serve as the Pentagon chief despite not meeting the requirement of a seven-year cooling-off period for former military officials. 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight Manchin compromise proposal a 'federal takeover of the election system,' GOP senator says MORE (R-Ohio) pointed to Yellen and Blinken as two other Cabinet picks who could get confirmed by the end of the week. 

But Democrats had publicly pushed for Biden to get at least two Cabinet picks confirmed on his first day, the same number as Trump.  

"In 2017, the Senate confirmed President Trump’s Secretary of the Defense and his Secretary of Homeland Security on Inauguration Day. President Biden should have the same officials in place on his inauguration day, at the very least. That is the expectation and tradition for any administration—but especially now, in the midst of a homeland security crisis," Schumer said earlier this week.