The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.
CNN: Senate passes package to avert fiscal cliff; House votes next
A full two hours after a midnight deadline, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a last-minute deal to avert the feared fiscal cliff on an 89-8 vote. The Senate package would put off budget cuts for two months and preserve Bush-era income tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 or couples earning less than $450,000.
CNN Security Clearance: Report blames poor security, inadequate response in Benghazi attack
Terrorists in Benghazi, Libya, "essentially walked right into the Benghazi compound unimpeded and set it ablaze," a special Senate report on the September 11 attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans says. The bipartisan report, "Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack at Benghazi," released Monday by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, cites "extremely poor security in a threat environment that was 'flashing red.' "
CNN: Politics in 2013: 5 things to watch for
OK. The budget deficit, the debt ceiling, and tax reform are givens. We know that those battles will continue to be in the political spotlight throughout 2013. But what else will be front and center in the New Year? Here are five other things to keep your eyes on.
CNN: Pizza magnate wins temporary ruling on contraception coverage dispute
The billionaire founder of Domino's Pizza has won a temporary court victory, with a federal judge blocking enforcement of part of the health care reform bill requiring most employers to provide a range of contraception and reproductive health services. Some business owners and their staff see that as a violation of their religious rights.
CNN: Father claims Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza's body
The father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza claimed his body last week, a family spokesman said. On December 14, Adam Lanza, 20, took guns belonging to his mother, Nancy, and shot her as she slept in her bed. Then he went to the school in Newtown, Connecticut, where he gunned down 20 children and six staff members before killing himself.
CNN: Planned Parenthood loses bid to delay Texas funding law
A Texas judge denied a Planned Parenthood request for a temporary restraining order Monday that would have extended the organization's ability to participate in the state's revamped Women's Health Program.
CNN: North Carolina governor pardons 'Wilmington 10'
Forty years after they were convicted by a jury of firebombing a grocery store in Wilmington, North Carolina, civil rights activists who became known as the "Wilmington 10" were pardoned Monday by the state's outgoing governor. "These convictions were tainted by naked racism and represent an ugly stain on North Carolina's criminal justice system that cannot be allowed to stand any longer," said Gov. Beverly Purdue. "Justice demands that this stain finally be removed."
CNN: Crews battle harsh weather trying to tow drilling unit to Alaska harbor
Coast Guard crews are teaming with Royal Dutch Shell to keep one of the oil company's drilling unit from running aground amid terrible weather in Alaska, the Coast Guard said Monday. Crews of two Shell-contracted tug boats were able Monday secure towing lines to the drilling rig Kulluk, which went adrift for 10 hours on Sunday while being shuttled to Seattle.
CNN: 13 stories for 2013: From Syria to the climate to the 'post-Gangnam' era
Forecasting the major international stories for the year ahead is a time-honored pastime, but the world has a habit of springing surprises. In late 1988, no one was predicting Tiananmen Square or the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the eve of 2001, the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan were unimaginable. So with that substantial disclaimer, let's peer into the misty looking glass for 2013.
CNN: In first New Year speech, North Korea's Kim Jong Un calls for economic revamp
In his first New Year's address, the young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told the nation to embark on "an all-out struggle" to overhaul its destitute economy, while striking a conciliatory tone on relations with the South.
CNN: John Sheardown, Canadian 'hero' in Iran hostage crisis, dies
John Sheardown, a Canadian immigration officer who helped shelter and smuggle six American diplomats out of Iran in 1980, has died, his son said Monday. He was 88. Sheardown was an immigration officer at the Canadian Embassy in Tehran when students and militants stormed the U.S. Embassy there on November 4, 1979, taking more than 50 Americans hostage. Just half a dozen evaded capture.
CNN: Attacks kill 16 across Iraq as sectarian tensions grow
At least 16 people were killed and dozens were injured in attacks across Iraq Monday amid an apparent uptick in sectarian tensions. Most of the attacks targeted Shiites, including bomb blasts that injured pilgrims traveling to shrines just days before a religious celebration. Four Shia pilgrims were killed and six were injured when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad's Karrada district, Iraq's Interior Ministry said.
CNNMoney: Senate bill stops many tax hikes, but leaves big issues pending
The fiscal cliff compromise passed by the Senate in the early morning hours Tuesday would mute much but not all of the negative economic impact of going over the cliff. Most prominently, it would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans and spare tens of millions from the Alternative Minimum Tax. But the deal, crafted over the long weekend by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, still must be approved by the House.
CNNMoney: What if there's no deal on fiscal cliff
So, it's official. The United States technically will go over the fiscal cliff for at least a short period of time. The House said that it won't consider any fiscal cliff legislation Monday night, even if a compromise deal is reached in the Senate overnight. Practically speaking, lawmakers likely have a "grace period" of a couple of weeks to pass a bill that wards off the bulk of scheduled tax increases and spending cuts without causing too much damage. But there's no guarantee that they'd be able to forge a final agreement quickly after Jan. 1.
CNNMoney: Gas prices hit highest average ever in 2012
Gasoline prices averaged the highest ever in 2012, despite never topping the single day spikes seen in 2008. The nationwide average price for a gallon of regular gas hit $3.60 in 2012, according to AAA. That's up 9 cents from the previous record high of $3.51 a gallon set in 2011. AAA blamed hurricanes, refinery outages and tensions in the Middle East for the high prices.
In case you missed it…
The country went over the fiscal cliff at midnight but Senators passed legislation to avoid sweeping tax increases.