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The House has passed legislation that promotes new ways to clean up oil spills and approved a bill that aims to make deep-water drilling safer.

The measures, responding to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, cleared the House by voice votes Wednesday and now go to the Senate.

The first bill would increase from $22 million to $48 million the amount of federal money spent on research and development of new cleanup methods and technologies.

The second bill promotes research on devices designed to prevent accidents, such as the blowout preventer that failed in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. And it deals with backup systems intended to shut off wells in an accident.


First lady praises winning designers

Michelle Obama used this year’s luncheon for the National Design Award winners to sing the praises of those who push boundaries or outright ignore them.

With jazz playing in the White House foyer and lobster carpaccio on the East Room tables, the first lady celebrated the award winners Wednesday as “folks whose work has literally changed the way we look at the world and how we live our daily lives.”

Mrs. Obama got a big laugh when she told the luncheon guests: “All of you have spent your lives pushing boundaries we know a little bit about pushing boundaries or just outright ignoring them altogether.”

And she got a special kick out of being seated for lunch next to Tim Gunn from “Project Runway.”

“How cool!” she declared.

The award winners included Rodarte, a sister-team of fashion designers whose creations the first lady has worn on several occasions in recent years. But for Wednesday’s luncheon, the first lady chose a hot-pink outfit by Isabel Toledo with a V-neck top, drapes of fabric at the waist and loose flowing pants.

The awards are presented by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Mrs. Obama called the winners “some of our country’s most talented, most visionary, most public-minded designers.”


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