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Senate Passes Energy Bill

The Senate passed the first increase in automobile fuel economy standards in three decades on Thursday night, as a comprehensive energy bill finally cleared the chamber after months of negotiations.

The bill passed 86 to 8.

The bill finally passed after a vote on an earlier version of the bill came up one vote shy earlier in the day.

However, once Democratic leaders removed two provisions--one to require utility companies to use a fixed percentage of renewable energy and the other a $21 billion tax package that would have eliminated billions of dollars in tax breaks for large oil companies--the bill sailed through.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the increases in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards a "historic accomplishment."

Reid, however,  acknowledged that the passage of the bill without the tax package was a "split decision," but said "it is a win nonetheless." 

The bill now heads back to the House for approval next week.