Stephens Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted last week to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, making her the fourth woman and 112th person to sit on the nation's highest body of justice.
Kagan, 50, was confirmed in a 63-37 vote. All but one Democrat voted for her, along with the Senate's two independents, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernard Sanders of Vermont, and five Republicans.
The nominee, who was raised in New York, was a lawyer and policy adviser in the White House under President Clinton, was dean of Harvard Law School and was solicitor general appointed by President Barack Obama.
With Democrats holding a 59-seat Senate majority and Republicans deciding not to filibuster, Kagan's confirmation was not in doubt.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted for Kagan. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., voted against her.
Senate approves school aid
The Senate voted 61-39 for a $26 billion bill aimed at bailing out cash-starved states contemplating laying off teachers and other public employees.
The Democratic bill offers $16.1 billion in promised federal aid for Medicaid, the state-administered health program for the poor and disabled, plus $10 billion to states and school districts.
The new spending was offset with a variety of budget cuts and tax increases, including rolling back increases in a supplemental food stamp program, and by closing what Democrats said was a loophole allowing multinational corporations to avoid certain U.S. taxes.
Supporters said the measure would avert the layoffs of almost 300,000 teachers, firefighters, police and other local and state government workers that state leaders said would have to be let go as they deal with budget shortfalls.
Critics said the money was a sop to Democratic-favored public employee unions, and was a bandage that will only delay layoffs until the federal infusion runs out.
All Democrats, including Reid, and the two independent senators voted for the bill, along with Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both R-Maine. All other Republicans, including Ensign, voted against it.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.