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The Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee voted 15-6 for the bill, which would require clinics to meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centers. The clinics now are regulated the same as doctors’ offices.

A vote on the House floor is likely next week. The legislation faces long odds in the Democratic-controlled Senate, which has rejected similar measures passed by the Republican-majority House several times in recent years.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in an advisory opinion last year that the governor has authority to impose the tougher standards. But Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who supports the tougher regulations, said the matter should be decided by the legislature.

TRANSPORTATION

Driver distraction still a target

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he will keep distracted driving at the top of his agenda despite critics who say the department should focus on other safety issues.

Mr. LaHood said Thursday the department would not be deterred by “false choices” between fighting distracted driving and addressing other safety issues.

Groups such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have questioned whether texting bans and restrictions on using handheld cell phones reduce crashes.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia prohibit drivers from texting behind the wheel. Eight states have passed laws barring drivers from using handheld cell phones.

The government estimates that 5,500 people were killed in 2009 in distracted-driving crashes.

Mr. LaHood said he will discuss distracted driving with Ford and Chrysler executives in Detroit next week.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama predicts win for Bears

President Obama is predicting that his hometown Chicago Bears will defeat their rivals, the Green Bay Packers, 20-17 in Sunday’s NFC Championship game.

But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mr. Obama won’t hold a grudge against the state of Wisconsin should the Packers win. Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama will travel to Manitowoc, Wis., on Wednesday, regardless of the outcome.

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