By David Lawder and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ending weeks of infighting, the U.S. Congress on Wednesday voted to avert a government shutdown just hours before a midnight deadline, passing a stop-gap measure to extend funding for federal agencies until Dec. 11. The House of Representatives relied heavily on Democrats to secure passage in a 277 to 151 vote. A large majority of Republicans voted against the measure, which did not meet conservatives' demands to cut off money to women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood amid an abortion controversy.
A Kentucky county clerk who had been jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples secretly met Pope Francis in a move that disappointed many liberal Catholics and encouraged officials who support her stance. The meeting with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, and comments by the pope on Monday, may spur action by local officials across the United States who have refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples since the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Kelly Gissendaner, 47, died by injection at 12:21 a.m. EDT at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, a prison spokeswoman said. In the execution chamber, Gissendaner prayed and called her former husband an "amazing man who died because of me," according to television reporter Jeff Hullinger, who witnessed the injection. Gissendaner was the 16th woman executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives will hold leadership elections on Oct. 8, House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday, moving speedily to get a new team in place to deal with a series of fiscal challenges ahead. "After consulting with our conference, a large majority of our members have made clear they want these elections held next week. With their considerations in mind, the House leadership elections will take place on Thursday, Oct. 8," Boehner said in an emailed statement. Boehner announced last Friday that he will step down as Speaker and leave Congress effective Oct. 30, after struggling with repeated rebellions by conservatives during a tumultuous five-year reign as the chamber's top Republican.