Democrats block Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act

Democrats on Thursday blocked the first major bill in the Senate that would have delayed the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air rules.

The bill, which needed 60 votes to pass, got only 47 votes. Joe Manchin from West Virginia, who faces reelection next year, was the lone Democrat to vote for the bill. His state is rich in coal, the fuel that could see added costs from a raft of upcoming EPA rules on power plants and industry.

The lone Republican to vote against the bill was Olympia Snowe of Maine.

The bill, called the Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 and sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch, was promoted by Republicans as a jobs measure that would have allowed businesses to hire by reducing regulatory uncertainty.

Democrats disagreed. “This is not a jobs bill,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, the chairman of the chamber’s Committee on Environment and Public Works. “If you can’t breathe, you can’t work.”

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