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Other News: Sebelius Confirmed as HHS Secretary

In other news, the Senate voted to confirm Kathleen Sebelius as the next secretary of Health and Human Services, and lawmakers reached a pact that would endorse President Obama's budget agenda.

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    In other news today, Kathleen Sebelius was confirmed as the next secretary of health and human services. The Senate approved the two-term Democratic governor of Kansas. She had faced opposition from anti-abortion groups over her support for abortion rights.

    House and Senate Democrats pushed toward a vote endorsing President Obama's budget. Negotiators reached agreement last night on a $3.5 trillion outline for 2010.

    It would make it easier to pass the Obama health care plan by dropping a requirement for 60 votes in the Senate. And the president's tax cut plan would expire after next year, but the Bush tax cuts for middle-class workers, investors, and families would continue.

    Government forces in Pakistan have now widened an offensive against the Taliban. Military jets and helicopters bombed suspected militant hideouts today, 60 miles outside the capital city of Islamabad. In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said it's encouraging that Pakistan is taking the initiative.

  • GEOFF MORRELL, Pentagon Press Secretary:

    These rather aggressive operations that are now underway in response to the offensive from the Taliban is a clear recognition of the threat posed by that offensive. They have been involved in this fight, but the key is to sustain these operations at this tempo and to keep the militants on their heels and ultimately defeat them.


    The Taliban advance had triggered alarm in Washington last week. At one point, Secretary of State Clinton said Pakistani leaders were "basically abdicating" to the militants.

    U.S. consumer confidence soared this month to its highest level since November; that was reported today by the Conference Board, a business research group.

    But it was a slow day on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 8 points to close below 8,017. The Nasdaq fell 5 points to close at 1,673.

    Shares of Citigroup and Bank of America fell today after news that they may have to raise more capital. The Wall Street Journal reported that it's based on initial results from government stress testing of the banks. The report said that executives at both banks objected to the initial assessment. The complete findings are due to be made public on Monday.