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The New York Times: Broad Energy Bill Stalls in Senate

By DAVID STOUT
Published: December 13, 2007

WASHINGTON — Republicans were able to stall a broad energy bill in the Senate on Thursday morning, prompting Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, to excise controversial parts of the measure in hopes of moving the legislation forward quickly.

The unsuccessful move to advance the bill failed by one vote. Supporters managed to get 59 “yes” votes, but 60 were needed to invoke cloture, or move to consideration of the bill itself. Forty senators voted “no.” The only senator not voting was John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who is campaigning for president in Iowa.

Among other things, the bill would require automakers to meet a fleet average of 35 miles a gallon by 2020, up from the current 25 miles per gallon. Supporters of the legislation hail it as the first meaningful improvement in fuel-efficiency standards in three decades.

The bill was approved by the House a week ago, 235 to 181, well short of the two-thirds needed to override a veto threatened by President Bush. A key sticking point for the president and his Republican allies is some $21 billion in new taxes, mostly on the oil industry. Opponents of the new taxes argue that they will increase energy prices.

Before Thursday morning’s cloture vote, Mr. Reid argued unsuccessfully that the bill as it stood would “start putting America on the path to a clear, safer and more affordable energy future,” and “begin to break our country’s addiction to oil, which forces us to do business with unstable governments and regions of the world.”

But Senate Republicans refused to budge on the tax issue, arguing that the bill as written would amount to a “massive tax increase” for Americans, as Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, put it.

After the cloture vote failed by one vote, Senator Reid said the tax provisions would be removed. And that step, Senator McConnell said, would guarantee “broad bipartisan support” for the legislation and speed its passage.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/13/washington/13cnd-energy.html?hp

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