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House Approves Energy Bill, Continues Long March to Adjournment

The House passed the first half of an energy package late Saturday afternoon, as Democratic leaders vowed to remain in session, possibly through the weekend, to complete three remaining bills before leaving for the monthlong August recess.

Exiting a mid-afternoon Democratic leadership meeting, two lawmakers said they hoped the House would complete its work late Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday morning.

But Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the chamber would meet Sunday “if we need it.”

The House will take up the tax portion of energy package before moving to the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriations bill this evening. In addition, the House is expected to join the Senate in voting to reauthorize a domestic spying program and approve a measure to provide funds for the reconstruction of the interstate bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed Wednesday.

The House approved the energy package, focused on conservation and renewable energy resources, 241-172, largely along party lines. Republicans have criticized the measure for not focusing on conventional energy sources.

The measure includes an amendment by Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), approved 220-190, that would require utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar by 2020. The measure would allow 4 percent of that requirement to be satisfied by efficiency measures, a nod to lawmakers from states with cheap power and little access to wind or solar power, who had feared the measure would effectively require them to pay taxes to states with those power sources.

— Jennifer Yachnin

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