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Senate advances water bill with $1.9B for Everglades, Florida algae bloom projects

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted to move forward Monday on a $10 billion water projects bill that includes about $1.9 billion for projects to restore Florida's Everglades and combat algae blooms that have fouled the state's beaches and rivers.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a newspaper column last week that fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida had convinced him to back the project after years of opposition.

Rubio's Democratic opponent, Rep. Patrick Murphy, has accused Rubio and Republican Gov. Rick Scott of not doing enough to find a long-term solution for algae blooms caused by polluted water flowing from Lake Okeechobee.

The bill, which also includes $220 million in emergency funding for Flint, Mich., and other communities beset by lead-contaminated water, advanced the bill 90-1 on a procedural vote, with approval expected later this week. If approved by the Senate, the bill would go to the House.

The bipartisan measure would authorize 29 projects in 18 states for dredging, flood control and other projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.