The Senate confirmed Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence in what was the first confirmation vote of the Biden administration.
Haines, a former top CIA official who also served as White House deputy national security advisor under President Obama, was confirmed by a 84-10 vote.
It is customary for an incoming administration to get at least a few Cabinet officials, usually for positions involving national security or foreign affairs, confirmed on Inauguration Day.
On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, the then-GOP controlled Senate confirmed his first defense secretary, James Mattis, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Until Wednesday afternoon, it was unclear if Biden would get any of his nominees confirmed on his first day in office. The Senate — which was Republican-controlled until Wednesday — was slow to schedule committee hearings for the initial round of nominees that Biden announced during the transition.
Haines ran into another snag on Wednesday, when Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) reportedly put a hold on her confirmation. (Expediting confirmations takes the consent of all 100 senators.)
Cotton, according to Politico, wanted follow up from Haines on a question about prosecuting CIA officials for their involvement in torture programs. He lifted his objection after Haines “clarified in a private setting that she had no intention to open up those investigations and expose operations officers inside the CIA to criminal prosecutions or adverse employment action,” Cotton said Wednesday.