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ha_boxerblack.JPGIn a rare display of bipartisanship on major legislation, the U.S. Senate passed Sen. Barbara Boxer's water resources bill Wednesday.

The $12.5 billion bill, which includes a long-sought authorization for levee improvements in Sacramento, drew overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans. The vote was 83-14.

"This type of a bill is not easy to get through. Every state has its own needs," Boxer said. "We were able to meet the needs of the entire country."

After the vote, Boxer praised the work of her staff, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, her Republican partner on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs.

Vitter, who agrees with Boxer on little else, called her a "great partner."

"We can come together on the infrastructure side of our committee," he said.

The Water Resources Development Act would authorize a variety of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects across the country, including flood control efforts, port improvements, wetlands restoration and coastal storm protection. It includes language that would expedite the environmental review process that many critics say lead to unnecessary delays and added costs in such projects.

But environmental groups objected to that language, and Wednesday, they voiced their disappointment in the Senate bill.

"Unfortunately, language in this bill undermines the bedrock environmental principle that the federal government should look before it leaps," said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, in a statement.

"This bill must be fixed before the President signs it into law," he added.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives. Rep. Doris Matsui, a Sacramento Democrat and a leading supporter of water resources legislation, said it was time for her colleagues to act.

"The Senate has provided a good starting point as well as a good example of cooperation; working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know we can do the same in the House," she said in a statement.

PHOTO CREDIT: Barbara Boxer in 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 1:12 p.m. May 15, 2013 to correct the vote to 83-14.


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