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Senate confirms Biden's first judicial nominee as Schumer vows to restore "balance" to courts

The Senate voted 66-33 on Tuesday to confirm Julien Xavier Neals to be U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey.

Why it matters: Neals is President Biden's first judicial nominee to be confirmed, as Democrats begin a push to "restore the balance" of the courts after the GOP-led Senate confirmed a record number of conservative judges under former President Trump.


  • Trump's aggressive judicial appointments were his most lasting, substantive legacy, as he appointed 234 judges to the federal bench — including three Supreme Court justices — in just one term.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)pledged that Senate Democrats would bring "balance, experience and diversity back to the judiciary" with Biden's nominees.

Background: Neals was previously nominated to serve on the district court by former President Obama in 2015, but his nomination expired after then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to bring it for a vote.

What to watch: There are currently 71 district-court vacancies and nine appeals-court vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Liberal activists have pushed for 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer to retire while Democrats still have control of the Senate.

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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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."

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