National briefs: Senate OKs Obama pick

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate approved President Barack Obama's pick for a top post at the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, but showdowns were possible over other nominees

Senators voted 62-37 to end Republican delaying tactics against Richard Griffin, whom Mr. Obama nominated to be NLRB general counsel. They then confirmed the appointment on a near-party line 55-44 tally.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., planned votes in coming days aimed at halting what he said were GOP roadblocks against six other nominations. The most controversial were Mr. Obama's picks of Patricia Millett to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which was developing into a key flashpoint, and Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Climate pact signed

SAN FRANCISCO -- With climate-change legislation stymied at the federal level, a coalition of West Coast states and one Canadian province on Monday signed a regional pact to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming.

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington, along with the premier of British Columbia, agreed to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions across an area that includes 53 million people.

Under the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, the four West Coast governments will also use similar rules to encourage the use of alternative fuels and the adoption of electric cars. And they will hunt for ways to deal with ocean acidification, a side effect of rising carbon dioxide levels and a deadly threat to shellfish.

Abortion-inducing drugs

WASHINGTON -- Oklahoma's high court set the stage Tuesday for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on an abortion dispute over whether states may restrict doctors from prescribing the two drugs that are commonly used by women who seek an abortion in the first weeks of their pregnancy.

The Oklahoma case could be the first test of whether the court's conservative majority will uphold the new state laws that seek to strictly regulate legal abortions.

The legislatures in Oklahoma, Texas and several other states have adopted laws that require doctors to follow the Food and Drug Administration's protocols for the use of "any abortion-inducing drug." These laws forbid doctors to prescribe medications for "off-label use."

Debt limit move rejected

WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to reject a GOP effort that would have blocked the approved increase in the national debt limit. The chamber voted 54-45 against the GOP move to try to use a special "disapproval" process to block that increase.

The move came as Senate Democrats proposed to avoid future showdowns over the so-called debt ceiling by giving the president authority to authorize additional federal borrowing unless Congress can muster veto-proof margins to block him.

Geriatric sex addressed

An association of professionals who work at hundreds of elderly-care facilities in the United States is calling on the homes to reconsider their policies -- or, in most cases, lack of policies -- on geriatric sex.

AMDA, formerly known as the American Medical Directors Association, said it took the action after articles published by Bloomberg News exposed the under-examined issues and consequences of sex between the demented at U.S. facilities.


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