WASHINGTON

Senate overwhelmingly confirms new HUD secretary

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm Julian Castro as the new secretary of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday, elevating the rising Democratic star to President Obama’s Cabinet.

The vote was 71-27, with 18 Republicans supporting the prominent Latino Democrat.

Castro, 39, has served for three terms as mayor of San Antonio, and he was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Castro’s nomination moved swiftly through the Senate even as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has raised the specter of further changes to procedural rules that govern the confirmation of presidential nominees.

Last fall Reid changed long-standing Senate filibuster rules to allow nominees to advance by a simple majority vote instead of a 60-vote threshold.

Castro becomes the second Latino in Obama’s Cabinet, joining Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.

Estimates show government overpaid $100 billion last year

By its own estimate, the government made about $100 billion in payments last year to people who may not have been entitled to receive them – tax credits to families that didn’t qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary.

Congressional investigators say the figure could be even higher.

The Obama administration has reduced the amount of improper payments since they peaked in 2010. Still, estimates from federal agencies show that some are wasting big money at a time when Congress is squeezing agency budgets and looking to save more.

“Nobody knows exactly how much taxpayer money is wasted through improper payments, but the federal government’s own astounding estimate is more than half a trillion dollars over the past five years,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.

HARRISBURG, Pa.

Sandusky son speaking out on alleged sexual abuse

Jerry Sandusky’s adult son is speaking out about what he says was sexual abuse by his father.

The Oprah Winfrey Network announced Tuesday that Winfrey’s interview with Matt Sandusky will be broadcast on July 17.

The network says Matt Sandusky describes grooming, methodical control and manipulation by his father.

He’s one of six children Jerry and Dottie Sandusky adopted.

– From news service reports