Housekeeping: Mandela, firefighters, Mel Watt

The House on Thursday evening quickly approved a resolution honoring the life of Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.

The resolution, H.Res. 434, was sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who was one of several House members who attended memorial services for Mandela in South Africa this week.

"President Nelson Mandela led the peaceful transition from minority rule and apartheid to a multicultural, multiracial democracy, and played a critical role in initiating South Africa's ongoing efforts to foster national reconciliation," the resolution states.

The resolution was passed by unanimous consent.

Also in the evening, the House passed H.R. 3458, the Fallen Firefighters Assistance Tax Clarification Act. This bill treats payments by charitable organizations to firefighters who were ambushed by an assailant in New York last year as tax-exempt.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the House sponsor of the bill, said New York firefighters were shot at by a man who set his sister on fire, called firefighters and then fired on the first responders.

Finally, the House said its goodbyes to Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), who was approved by the Senate this week to serve as the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Members from North Carolina's delegation offered their farewells, and Watt spoke on the House floor to say thanks.

"I just wanted to take a moment to express to my colleagues how much of an honor it has been to be a part of this body," he said.

"It's been a great honor, and I thank all of them for the expressions in the last few days and I look forward to working with them in the new position that I will be assuming," Watt said. "I yield back my time once and for all."