National briefs: Senate OKs 2 under new rules

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted, 56-38, Tuesday to seat Patricia Millett on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the first confirmation under new Senate filibuster rules and one that gives the influential panel a majority of Democratic-nominated judges for the first time in nearly three decades.

Previously, the confirmation of Ms. Millett, along with those of two other nominees President Barack Obama named to the court this past summer, had been blocked by Republican filibusters.

Later Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Mel Watt as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, ending a long battle by Democrats to change leadership of the entity that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The vote was 57-41.

Hearing for IRS pick

WASHINGTON -- John Koskinen, President Barack Obama's nominee to run the Internal Revenue Service, said at a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that he would work to restore the public's trust in the tax agency.

The IRS, lacking a confirmed commissioner for more than a year, has been struggling with budget cuts and the political reverberations from its admission that it applied tougher scrutiny to Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status.

Corruption conviction

LOS ANGELES -- A former official in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell has been convicted of corruption in a case that drove the city to the brink of bankruptcy.

Jurors found former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia guilty of 11 charges Monday, including conspiracy, misappropriating public funds, falsification of government records and conflict of interest.

Stranded group found alive

LAS VEGAS -- Two adults and four children, ranging in age from 3 to 10, were found alive Tuesday in the frigid mountains in northern Nevada after going missing on a Sunday outing in subzero temperatures.

They were found Tuesday, apparently huddled inside their Jeep about 6 miles outside Lovelock in the Kamma Mountains.

Hazing-death penalty lifted

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Florida A&M University was taken off probation Tuesday when the university's accrediting agency, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, lifted a yearlong penalty sparked in part by the hazing death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion in Orlando.

The decision was made at a private meeting in Atlanta, said Pamela Cravey, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Also in the nation ...

An armed robbery at a Miami drugstore and subsequent manhunt left three officers shot and the suspect and a possible accomplice dead Tuesday. ... Nineteen alleged members and associates of the Mara Salvatrucha-13 gang in Los Angeles were arrested Tuesday after a two-year investigation.


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