Senate Democratic leaders failed to get the votes needed Friday to proceed with quick consideration of a House-passed energy bill and began searching for a compromise that could overcome a Republican filibuster.
Senators by a 53-42 vote fell short of moving ahead with the legislation passed by the House on Thursday. Sixty votes were needed to overcome GOP objections.
"I would hope this sends a signal," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. after the vote.
Senate Republicans have made clear they are strongly opposed to a $21 billion tax package in the House-passed bill, including $13.5 billion in oil industry taxes, as well as a requirement for electric utilities to generate 15 percent of their power by renewable energy such as wind and solar.
They are the "twin millstones" that will keep the legislation from passing the Senate, declared Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said attempts would be made to try to work out a compromise on the two contentious issues that he plans to return to the energy legislation next week.
The bill, passed by the House on Thursday has as its centerpiece a requirement to increase automobile fuel economy by 40 percent, the first such increase by Congress in more than three decades.
It also would require a sevenfold increase in the use of ethanol as a motor fuel to 36 billion gallons a year by 2020.