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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 TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE's first day. 

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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 BookerABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent NJ lawmakers ask Gannett to stop 'union-busting' efforts at 3 state newspapers Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case MORE (D-N.J.).

Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers Democrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda Khashoggi fiancée: Not punishing Saudi crown prince would be 'stain on our humanity' 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. 

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“I think there were a lot of things going on up here,” said Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyBiden reignites war powers fight with Syria strike Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress Democrats reintroduce gun sale background check legislation 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 RubioHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China DeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk 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 CottonRepublicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks 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. 

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Each of the "no" votes on Haines's nomination came from Republicans: Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnRepublicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal White House defends Biden's 'Neanderthal thinking' remark on masks Marsha Blackburn: Biden needs to 'rethink' comments about 'resilient' and 'resourceful' Neanderthals MORE (Tenn.), Mike BraunMichael BraunMurthy vows to focus on mental health effects of pandemic if confirmed as surgeon general GOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill MORE (Ind.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCrenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington on high alert as QAnon theory marks March 4 MORE (Texas), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstRepublicans demand arms embargo on Iran after militia strikes in Iraq Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill MORE (Iowa), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyCrenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? MORE (Mo.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks Biden reignites war powers fight with Syria strike Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers MORE (Utah), Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallPat Roberts joins lobbying firm weeks after Senate retirement Biden health nominee faces first Senate test Senate committee plans grid reliability hearing after Texas outages MORE (Kan.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers House sets vote for George Floyd police reform bill MORE (Ky.) and Jim RischJim Elroy RischMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' Biden to redirect .4M in aid to Myanmar, sanction key military figures 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 RatcliffeFormer Trump officials eye bids for political office Grenell congratulates Buttigieg on becoming second openly gay Cabinet member Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official 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 YellenDebt to break WWII record by 2031 Inflation debate heats up over Biden relief bill Biden cautious in making Trump tax returns decision MORE, secretary of State pick Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenSenators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China Overnight Health Care: Experts warn US risks delaying 'normal' summer | Alabama GOP governor extends mask mandate | Senate votes to take up relief bill Republicans demand arms embargo on Iran after militia strikes in Iraq MORE, Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Biden called off second military target in Syria minutes before strike: report Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal MORE to be Defense secretary and Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasMSNBC's Jacob Soboroff doesn't let falling equipment stop his report Republicans call for hearing on Biden's handling of border surge Pavlich: Mayorkas' reckless invitation ensures border crisis is about to explode 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 SchumerRon Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade 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 PortmanMandel gets Club for Growth nod in Ohio Senate primary Rick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Five takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing 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.