Senate Passes Energy Bill

Measure passes in landslide after tax provisions removed.

The Senate voted twice on the Energy Bill Thursday. In the first vote they fell one vote shy of passing the bill, but after removing a provision that would cut tax breaks for oil and gas companies the bill passed 86-8.

Thursday morning's vote came after the Renewable Electricity Standard, which would require a percentage of electricity be generated from renewable sources, was stripped from the bill. That gained six votes from last week's failed vote, but not enough to put it over the hump. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed to relent on the taxes of oil and gas companies to save the bill, and it passed on the second vote of the day.

Those provisions had drawn a veto threat for the legislation from the administration. Senator Pete Domenici, R-N.M, the ranking member of the Energy Committee worked with Reid to make the changes. The bill that passed did raise the Renewable Fuel Standard to 36 billion gallons.

"I guarantee you this bill will get signed and become law," Domenici says. "It will be the most significant act that we can take to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Domenici had been proposing the RFS as an amendment to the farm bill, but with passage of the Energy Bill that will be dropped.

The Energy Bill now goes back to the House for approval before moving to the President's desk. According to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, if the bill passed Thursday makes it to the President, he will sign it.

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