Senate approves auto fuel economy increase, more ethanol use

The Senate passed a trimmed-back energy bill that would bring higher-gas mileage cars into showrooms in the coming decade and fill their tanks with ethanol. The measure was approved Thursday with strong bipartisan support 86-8 after Democrats abandoned efforts to impose billions of dollars in new taxes on the biggest oil companies, unable by one vote to overcome Republican delaying tactics against the new taxes. The bill now goes to the House, where a vote is expected next week. The White House issued a statement saying President George W. Bush will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk, as is expected. Bush had promised a veto if the oil industry taxes were not removed. The measure calls for the first major increase by Congress in required automobile fuel efficiency in 32 years, something the auto companies have fought for two decades.