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Inside Politics

- - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ENVIRONMENT

House votes to limit EPA's clean-water role

The Republican-controlled House passed a bill Wednesday that would sharply curtail the federal government's role in protecting waters from pollution by barring the Environmental Protection Agency from overruling state decisions on water quality.

The bill passed on a 239-184 vote. Sixteen Democrats joined the majority of Republicans in supporting it. The White House threatened to veto the bill, saying it "would roll back the key provisions ... that have been the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the nation's waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable."

Under the Clean Water Act, states have primary responsibility for protecting waterways after the EPA signs off on their plans. But the agency can step in if it thinks water resources aren't being adequately protected.

The measure strips the EPA of that oversight authority. Drafters of the bill said Wednesday that the goal was to restore cooperation between the federal government and the states, and to rein in an agency that they argue is running roughshod over states' rights for a political agenda that kills jobs and harms the economy.

ELECTION 2012

RNC to air anti-Obama ads in four states

LANSING, Mich. — The Republican National Committee has announced plans to air a TV ad in Michigan and three other key states critical of President Obama's handling of the economy.

The RNC said Wednesday the 60-second "Change Direction" spot will be seen on cable and broadcast outlets in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, states the GOP points out supported the Democratic presidential nominee in both 2004 and 2008.

The party began airing a similarly themed ad last week as well.

The RNC says it wants voters to be aware of what it calls Mr. Obama's "abysmal economic record."

Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse says that while the president "continues to fight to clean up a mess that was years in the making," Republicans "are playing politics with our economy."

FIRST LADY

Mrs. Ford mourned at presidential museum

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Betty Ford returned Wednesday to the city where she grew up and wed the man who became the only president from Michigan, prompting hundreds to line the streets in front of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum as her casket arrived for a memorial service.

Mourners were lined up for a public viewing of Mrs. Ford's body following a similar, and sometimes tearful, send-off by thousands of well-wishers in California earlier in the day. After another memorial Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mrs. Ford is to be buried at her husband's presidential museum. Gerald R. Ford died in 2006.

On Tuesday, a service at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif., was attended by 800 people, including former President George W. Bush and first lady Michelle Obama.

VETERANS

Obama to address American Legion convention

President Obama will address thousands of veterans and their families at the American Legion's national convention in Minneapolis on Aug. 30.

It will be his first time addressing the veterans organization in person. Mr. Obama recorded a video message that was played at the Legion's 2009 convention.

Jimmie Foster, the American Legion's national commander, says the group wants to hear about the administration's vision for the economy, national security and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The war in Afghanistan is also likely to be of interest. Mr. Obama announced last month that 33,000 U.S. troops will return from Afghanistan by next summer. About 10,000 of those troops are to leave by the end of 2011. Mr. Obama said the pullout would begin this month but that his commanders will decide the details.

From wire dispatches and staff reports