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Senate ends standoff over judges, business bill

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders are ending their standoff over President Barack Obama’s judicial nominations and are moving ahead on a small-business bill.

The Senate was on the brink of 17 grueling votes in a row Wednesday on fill vacant judgeships.

But then Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced a deal to act on some of the U.S. district court nominations at issue.

The leaders also said lawmakers will return to debate a small-business bill that both parties favor in this presidential and congressional election year.

Voters for months have told pollsters that they loathe partisan standoffs after a year dominated by showdowns on economic matters.