Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Biden urged to renominate donor who flunked ambassador confirmation under Obama

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has asked President Biden to nominate George Tsunis, a New York hotel executive and major Democratic donor, for an ambassadorship, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez has the ability to slow-walk any ambassadorial nominee, giving the White House plenty of reasons to placate him on one specific candidate. Tsunis has a checkered political history, though.


  • During his 2013 confirmation hearing to be ambassador to Norway, Tsunis acknowledged he had not visited the country and mistakenly referred to the country’s head of government as “president,” not “prime minister.”
  • Tsunis’s performance was lambasted by then-Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), lampooned in comedy sketches and ultimately languished in the Senate.
  • Tsunis pulled himself out of contention in 2014.

What they're saying: “I have a longstanding policy on not commenting on anyone who may, or may not, become a nominee,” Menendez told Axios.

  • The White House also declined to comment.

The intrigue: Tsunis is the founder and CEO of Chartwell Hotels. He has long been a Biden donor and even indicated he’d support him in 2016, when the then-vice president ultimately decided not to run.

  • During President Obama's 2012 reelection effort, Tsunis bundled $1.3 million for his campaign.
  • Tsunis also has been a staunch supporter of Menendez and linked his interest in helping Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) 2020 presidential bid — before Biden got in the race — to Menendez.
  • ”This is George helping Sen. Menendez help Cory Booker," Tsunis said on CNBC in March of 2019.

Between the lines: Biden plans to draw mostly on political allies and former aides for his first slate of political ambassadors, and it’s unclear how many pure donors will make the initial cut.

  • Even though he has had a list of potential ambassadors in hand since March, the president has delayed announcing his first political group and likely will do it later in June, after he returns from his first trip abroad.
  • Some advisers had wanted Biden to name ambassadors for NATO and the European Union before meeting with leaders in the UK and then Brussels over the next week.

Be smart: After his disastrous hearing, Tsunis made inroads with some senators, who appreciated his willingness to listen and learn.

Biden administration buys 200 million additional doses of Moderna’s COVID vaccine

The Biden administration has purchased an additional 200 million doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, the biotech company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Moderna says the additional doses could be used to vaccinate children or — if necessary — as a booster shot.

Keep reading... Show less

Live updates: Biden and Putin land in Geneva ahead of summit

President Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for five hours of talks on Wednesday, a highly anticipated summit that comes as both sides say U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to a new post-Cold War low.

The latest: Putin arrived in Geneva shortly before 7 a.m. ET and traveled via motorcade to Villa La Grange, a mansion set in a 75-acre park overlooking Lake Geneva. Biden arrived at around 7:20 a.m. ET. The two leaders are expected to take a photo with Swiss President Guy Parmelin before the meeting begins.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden-Putin summit: What to expect when you're not expecting much

After a bitter blast from Putin and tough talk from Biden, both sides agree: Don't count on much from Wednesday's summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What they're saying: "We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva. "No breaking of bread."

Keep reading... Show less

Florida's early reopening could make it a business travel mecca

As post-pandemic business travel comes back, experts say Florida's reopening policies should allow it to lock in a significant share of returning corporate events and meetings.

Why it matters: There's a lot of money to be made — with a lot of people itching to travel — after the sector lost $97 billion in spending last year, according to a new Tourism Economics analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.

Keep reading... Show less

There isn’t a worker shortage in the U.S. — there’s been a worker awakening

Many politicians, pundits and business owners have said pandemic-era enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping would-be workers at home. But that's a much too simplistic explanation of today's employment situation.

The big picture: Many hard-hit sectors are rebounding faster than anecdotal evidence would suggest. And when jobs are hard to fill, a broader worker awakening over the past year is part of the reason.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden's surprise pick for FTC chair, a leading tech critic, is already rocking boats

By naming tech critic Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, the White House made clear it is dead serious about antitrust enforcement and other measures to rein in Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

The intrigue: By naming Khan FTC chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her appointment as one of five commissioners at the agency, the White House took both the industry and many D.C. insiders by surprise.

Keep reading... Show less

MedPAC says higher prices drove up Medicare drug spending

The amount Medicare spent on drugs that are dispensed at pharmacies increased 26% from 2013 through 2018, members of the Medicare Advisory Payment Commission wrote in their new annual report.

Why it matters: MedPAC members put the spotlight on pharmaceutical companies, attributing "nearly all of the growth ... to higher prices rather than an increase in the number of prescriptions filled by beneficiaries."

Keep reading... Show less

China's government issues warning after sending record 28 planes over Taiwan

China's government issued a warning to "foreign forces" after Taiwan reported a record 28 Chinese military planes flew over the self-governed island's airspace Tuesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The statement and deployment of aircraft including fighter jets and bombers comes after G7 leaders issued a statement Sunday urging the Chinese government to respect human rights and calling on peace and "stability across the Taiwan Strait."

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories