In a minor victory for renewable energy, the Senate Finance Committee has approved a package of tax breaks for wind energy, biodiesel and other clean power sources.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, passed a symbolic measure to erase the incentives. The issue is likely to be decided as part of a major budget battle that is looming at the end of this year.

The renewable energy provisions represent less than $6 billion of the $205 billion package, which passed the committee in a 19-5 vote. Of the funding, $3.3 billion would go to an extension of the federal production tax credit used by the wind industry to keep electricity rates competitive with fossil fuels. The tax credit was originally created in 1992 and has been extended periodically since then. The American Wind Energy Association argues that allowing the credit to expire could mean the loss of 37,000 jobs next year.

The committee’s package also includes extensions of a $1.01 per gallon tax credit for the production of cellulosic biofuel, a credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel and a number of credits encouraging energy efficiency in homes and appliances.

The current wind energy credit is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The proposed extension, like most of the other renewable energy provisions in the package, would last until the end of 2013. The credit has become a political issue this election year. Mitt Romney has said he would allow it to expire, while President Barack Obama supports keeping it.

Congress has now begun its five-week summer recess. When it starts up again in the fall, the Senate will take up the tax credit package as well as other budget provisions. A major fight over government spending is brewing this year with Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of December and $109 billion in automatic spending cuts planned for Jan. 2, 2013.

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