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CONGRESS TAKES UP ABORTION, VIETNAM TRADE

In the final hours of Republican rule, the Senate on Wednesday put forward an all-purpose bill covering everything from normalized trade with Vietnam and tax breaks for millions of taxpayers to an expansion of offshore oil drilling.

The House, meanwhile, gave conservatives their last chance for a while to vote on an abortion bill. House Majority Leader John Boehner told lawmakers they wouldn't adjourn today as planned.

House GOP leaders brought up a bill that would require informing a woman that a late-term abortion would cause pain to the fetus. The 250-162 vote in favor was short of the two-thirds majority needed under a procedure that limited debate.

WASHINGTON

Kilpatrick is pick to lead Black Caucus

The Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday tapped Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick as its chairwoman for the next two years.

Kilpatrick, D-Mich., a former schoolteacher and the mother of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was chosen unanimously. She succeeds Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C.

"Watch for us," Kilpatrick told reporters. "We will take this caucus to another level."

Because Democrats will be in control when Congress convenes a new session Jan. 4, the 43-member caucus will take up a historic slate of leadership positions, including the third-ranking member in the House, Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina.

It also will count as members four likely committee heads, up to 20 subcommittee leaders, and the only black senator, Barack Obama of Illinois, a possible presidential candidate.

Up next:Births

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