Senate Democrats Drop Opposition to Leavitt EPA Nomination

Senate Democrats Drop Opposition to Leavitt EPA Nomination

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(Capitol Hill-AP) -- Senate Democrats have dropped their opposition to the nomination of Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

The move came just before the Senate was to hold a procedural vote that would have set up an up-or-down decision on the nomination. The about-face by Democrats came after it became clear that Senate Republicans could easily muster the 60 votes needed to end the Democrats' delaying tactics, which were meant as a protest of the Bush administration environmental policies.

Senators now plan to vote on Leavitt's confirmation tomorrow morning.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton dropped her opposition to Leavitt after the White House told her it would take additional steps to protect New Yorkers exposed to the World Trade Center rubble.

Clinton and three Democratic presidential contenders in the Senate, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina, had led the effort to block a vote for several weeks.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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