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Confirmation hearing for Biden's national intelligence chief abruptly postponed

A Senate aide said they do not expect this to “significantly delay the confirmation process" for Avril Haines.
Image: FILE PHOTO: President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines speaks in Wilmington, Delaware
Avril Haines speaks at President-elect Joe Biden's transition headquarters in the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 24, 2020.Joshua Roberts / Reuters file

The first confirmation hearing for one of President-elect Joe Biden’s crucial cabinet posts has been abruptly rescheduled, the ranking members of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Thursday.

Biden announced in November that Avril Haines, who held top national security jobs under former President Barack Obama, would become his director of national intelligence in his administration. The virtual hearing was scheduled for Friday but was postponed.

A Republican Senate aide told NBC News that there is no rescheduled date yet for the postponed hearing, but the delay occurred in part because members wanted to be able to attend in person. The aide said they do not expect this to “significantly delay the confirmation process.” Another aide said the Senate hopes to hold the hearing on Tuesday.

Having served under Obama as a national security lawyer and deputy CIA director, Haines, 51, has been playing a key national security role in the Biden transition. She will become the first woman in the DNI job, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to better coordinate the sprawling American intelligence bureaucracy.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is the acting chair of the Senate intelligence committee, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice-chair, said in a joint statement on Thursday that the panel is working in “good faith” to have a confirmation hearing.

“Despite the unusual circumstances on Capitol Hill, the committee is working in good faith to move this nominee as fast as possible and ensure the committee's members have an opportunity to question the nominee in both open and closed settings,” the lawmakers said.

“The Director of National Intelligence plays a crucial role in overseeing the 18 agencies that make up our nation’s Intelligence Community, and the committee looks forward to holding a hearing next week with Ms. Haines.”