In brief: Senate panel approves Interior nominee
WASHINGTON – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved President Obama’s pick to lead the Interior Department, REI chief executive Sally Jewell, sending the nomination to the full Senate for consideration.
The committee’s ranking minority member, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, had threatened to place a hold on Jewell’s nomination because of the Interior Department’s decision to reject a proposal Murkowski favors to build a road through a wildlife refuge in her state to a local airport. But Murkowski eventually backed Jewell after the Interior department agreed on Thursday to review the decision.
Gang of Eight nears deal on immigration bill
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of senators is nearing agreement on a comprehensive immigration bill that would put illegal immigrants on a 13-year path to citizenship, officials with outside groups keeping up with the talks said Thursday.
The legislation also would install new criteria for border security, allow more high- and low-skilled workers to come to the U.S. and hold businesses to tougher standards on verifying their workers are in the country legally, according to outside groups and lawmakers involved.
The senators in the so-called Gang of Eight were meeting for hours at a time daily this week trying to complete a deal.
Obama picks Macfarlane for new term on NRC
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has nominated Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane to a new five-year term.
Macfarlane, a geologist, took over the agency last summer after its former chairman, Gregory Jaczko, resigned amid complaints about an unyielding management style that fellow commissioners and agency employees described as bullying.
Macfarlane was initially named to a one-year term that expires in June. Obama named her Thursday to a new five-year term. The appointment requires approval by the Senate.
Mistrial declared after deliberation disruptions
LOS ANGELES – Saying she feared “all hell” had broken loose among jurors, a judge declared a mistrial Thursday on dozens of remaining counts against five former elected officials who had been convicted the day before of looting a working-class Los Angeles suburb.
Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy took the action after the 12-member panel struggled to decide 42 counts against the former mayor and four former members of the Bell City Council.
On Wednesday, the panel convicted the five of of 21 counts of misappropriating public funds and acquitted them on 21 other counts.
Things quickly went downhill Thursday after the judge asked jurors to try to reach verdicts on dozens more counts of misappropriating public funds. The panel was deadlocked 9-3 in favor of convicting them.
A juror’s note Thursday read, “Your honor, I respectfully ask if you could please remind the jury to remain respectful and to not make false accusations or insults to one another.”
“It seems to me all hell has broken loose,” Kennedy told attorneys.
After one more session, they said they could not agree and the judge declared the mistrial.