The U.S. Senate confirmed Miriam Sapiro as deputy trade representative in one of its final acts before adjourning for the year. Senators also approved the U.S. foreign-aid chief and highway safety administrator.

President Barack Obama nominated Sapiro, a former State Department and White House official, in April. Sapiro was approved by the Senate Finance Committee in July. She served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and was president of Summit Strategies International LLC, a consulting firm focusing on Internet policy. She raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama’s presidential campaign.

Also confirmed today were Rajiv Shah as head of the U.S. Agency for International Development and David Strickland, senior counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee, to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Strickland helped write the 2007 law that required the first increase in fuel-economy standards in 30 years.

The Senate didn’t act on several nominees for Treasury Department positions, including Lael Brainard, nominated as undersecretary for international affairs, whose confirmation had been stalled because of questions about her taxes; Marisa Lago, a nominee as assistant secretary for international markets and development; Charles Collyns, nominated as assistant secretary for international finance; Michael Mundaca, tapped as assistant secretary for tax policy; and Mary Miller, the nominee as assistant secretary for financial markets.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the Finance Committee’s ranking Republican, said yesterday that he would hold up Treasury nominees to protest penalties imposed on small businesses in tax disputes. Grassley said Treasury has put tax liens on small businesses while giving more favorable treatment to large banks bailed out by the government. – Bloomberg