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Senate panel votes to overturn EPA on California waiver

WASHINGTON _ In a purely symbolic move, the Senate committee headed by California Sen. Barbara approved her bill Thursday that would grant the Clean Air Act waiver California needs to enact tough car and truck emission standards.

But the 10-9 vote by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is as far as the legislation is likely to get. The vote was largely along party lines, an indication it might not be able to overcome a filibuster blocking it from coming to a vote.

Even if it did make it out of Congress, President Bush is certain to veto it. A House committee released documents this week showing that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied the California waiver request in December after being told by the White House that it opposed giving the state an exception to the Clean Air Act allowing it to impose tougher standards than federal law.

"The goal of today's action is to keep a spotlight on the issue," Boxer said.

Boxer's bill would simply deem the state's waiver application approved. While the committee vote was mostly along party lines with Democrats backing the measure, one Democrat voted against it and one Republican voted for it, giving Boxer the opportunity to tout bipartisan support for it.

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