Bid for Tax Breaks on Renewable Energy Blocked

Senate Republicans halted a $32 billion package of tax breaks for renewable energy that would have been financed mostly by new taxes on big oil.

Democrats fell three votes shy of overcoming a threatened Republican filibuster aimed at keeping the measure from being attached to a broader energy bill. GOP senators argued that the nearly $29 billion in additional taxes on major oil companies would cause them to reduce production and lead to higher gasoline prices.

Democrats needed 60 votes to move the package to a vote, but fell short, 57-36. Democrats could resurrect the measure later, though there was no immediate indication of that.

The tax proposal had some bipartisan support, but also attracted sharp criticism from many Republican senators who lined up against it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), said he intends to proceed with consideration of the energy legislation with or without the tax measures. "There are still good things in the bill," he told reporters before the floor vote.

The Senate later voted 61-32 to proceed further with the energy legislation.

Republicans complained that it the proposal was too harsh on the oil industry and could lead to oil companies reducing investments in new oil refineries and production. They also said that it could lead to higher prices for consumers.

Meanwhile, President Bush was in Alabama touring a nuclear power plant that went online last month after being shut down in 1985 over safety concerns.

Bush used the occasion to renew his call for renewed effort to develop nuclear power as a way to shake off America dependence on foreign oil and fight global warming.

Bush also will headline an Alabama fundraiser for Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, even though Sessions has helped lead the opposition to Bush's immigration overhaul.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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