In brief: Senate confirms Power as UN ambassador
Washington – The Senate easily confirmed President Barack Obama’s selection for ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday, capping a month in which senators used a bipartisan truce on once-mired nominations to fill a cluster of vacancies in the president’s second-term administration.
Senators approved Samantha Power for the post by 87-10. The vote put the former Obama foreign policy adviser and outspoken human rights advocate into the job formerly held by Susan Rice, whom the president has made his national security adviser.
Power joined a stack of nominees that senators have approved since striking a bipartisan deal in mid-July.
Late on Thursday, the Senate also confirmed:
• Army Gen. Martin Dempsey for another two-year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Adm. James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
• Jason Furman, a veteran White House economic official, as chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.
• Mary Jo White of New York for a full term as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Michael Sean Piwowar of Virginia and Kara Marlene Stein of Maryland as commissioners.
• James Costos of California as U.S. ambassador to Spain.
Unspecified threat closes U.S. holdings
Washington – The United States is shuttering its embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world on Sunday after receiving an unspecified threat.
State Department officials said Thursday that they were taking action out of an “abundance of caution.”
Spokeswoman Marie Harf cited information indicating a threat to U.S. facilities overseas and said some diplomatic facilities may stay closed for more than a day.
Other U.S. officials said the threat was in the Muslim world, where Sunday is a workday. U.S. diplomatic missions in Europe, Latin America and many other places are closed on Sunday.
Obama surprises with IRS nomination choice
Washington – President Barack Obama nominated a corporate turnaround specialist Thursday to head the embattled Internal Revenue Service.
The surprise move came as Republicans prepared to spend their summer recess campaigning against the agency.
John Koskinen, 74, served as the non-executive chairman at mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac, from 2008 after it went into government receivership during the unfolding financial crisis until 2011. He briefly served as interim CEO.
Before that, Koskinen ran the United States Soccer Foundation, and also worked for 21 years at the Palmieri Co., a politically connected corporate turnaround firm.