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Mikulski, Cardin touring Gulf today

Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin are touring the oil-fouled Gulf coast Friday, getting a first-hand look at damage wreaked by the BP/Deepwater Horzon rig blowout nearly two months ago.

The Maryland Democrats will take a chopper tour over the site where oil continues to pour from the sea bottom. They'll also ride a boat through coastal wetlands where petroleum has washed ashore.

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Their plans include meetings with local and federal officials and a press conference in Grand Isle with Louisiana's Republican Sen. David Vitter and Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, who are also taking the tour.

Cardin chairs an Environment subcommittee on water and wildlife; Mikulski helms an Appropriations panel that funds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, currently providing twice-daily weather updates which help officials track the movement of the largest spill in U.S. history.

They aren't the first lawmakers from Maryland to make the rounds of the battered Gulf zone; Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, who heads a Coast Guard committee, has been there twice.

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