Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Senate Oks 2 Obama Picks

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Senate Oks 2 Obama Picks

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The Senate plugged two more vacancies in President Barack Obama's second-term leadership team Thursday, confirming Thomas Perez as labor secretary and Gina McCarthy as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

After months of Democratic complaints that Republicans were stalling Mr. Obama's efforts to staff his administration and the federal courts, the spurt of movement followed a bipartisan deal reached Tuesday. Republicans agreed to allow votes on seven nominations, and Democrats in return shelved efforts to change Senate rules to weaken the minority GOP's powers.

The chamber had approved two others to top jobs earlier in the week.

Even as that agreement appeared to be holding, details emerged of internal GOP discord about the deal.

At a private meeting of Republican senators on Wednesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he had been working toward a longer-term agreement in which Democrats would have promised not to alter Senate rules during the current Congress, which runs through next year, according to lawmakers and aides familiar with the meeting.

Manning defense's setback

FORT MEADE, Md. -- The judge in the court martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning on Thursday turned down a defense request to dismiss the most serious charge against him -- aiding the enemy -- setting in motion closing arguments in the first of a pair of high-profile cases against government leakers.

The decision by Col. Denise Lind means that Pvt. Manning, who provided the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks with more than 700,000 classified war documents, State Department cables, combat videos and other items, could ultimately be sentenced to life in a military brig with no possibility of parole if the judge finds him guilty of aiding the enemy.

Martin parents' reaction

NEW YORK -- For the first time since George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering their son, Trayvon Martin's parents gave TV interviews Thursday morning to decry the verdict and ask the federal government to continue to investigate. …

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