Elsewhere in the economy, U.S. consumers are buying more big-ticket items.
According to the Commerce Department, orders for durable goods rose five-and-a-half percent in May...their largest gain in 14 months.
Sales of new homes also rose last month, surging to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of one-point-three million units...the second-highest level on record.
And just in time for Summer, crude oil prices soared above $60 per barrel this week, setting yet another record high.
The skyrocketing energy prices are a cause for concern as Congress continues its work on a sweeping energy bill. And increasingly, lawmakers are calling for development of alternative fuels to stabilize prices and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Proponents of a wind tax credit include Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin. The Hawkeye State already is home to over 400 wind turbines, providing enough energy to power 130,000 homes per year.
Greenhouse gas emissions also were a topic of debate on the Senate floor. A proposal by Senator John McCain of Arizona called for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to a 2000 level by the year 2010. But that amendment was rejected on Wednesday.
The Senate bill contains key differences from a similar measure passed by the House in April. The House legislation allows oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and provides liability protection for the makers of the gasoline additive MTBE. The House provision would shield MTBE producers from water contamination lawsuits.
The Senate concluded debate on its version of the Energy Bill late this week and is scheduled to vote on the measure next Tuesday. Since the Senate legislation does not contain amendments concerning MTBE or the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, the stage is set for contentious debate in the future.