(AP) House Democrats narrowly won a key test vote Friday on sweeping legislation to combat global warming and usher in a new era of cleaner energy. Republicans said the bill included "the largest tax increase in American history."

The vote was 217-205 to advance the White House-backed legislation to the floor, and 30 Democrats defected, a reflection of the controversy the bill sparked.

The legislation would impose limits for the first time on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, factories and refineries. It also would force a shift from coal and other fossil fuels to renewable and more efficient forms of energy. Supporters and opponents agreed the result would be higher energy costs, but disagreed widely on the impact on consumers.

President Obama has made the measure a top priority of his first year in office. The president, along with White House aides and House Democratic leaders, scrambled for the votes to assure passage. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has pledged to get the legislation passed before lawmakers leave on their July 4 vacation.

The Senate has yet to act on the measure, and a major struggle is expected.

In the House, the bill's fate depended on the decisions of a few dozen fence-sitting Democrats, mainly conservatives and moderates from contested districts who feared the political ramifications of siding with the White House and their leadership on the measure.

Republicans saw it differently. This "amounts to the largest tax increase in American history under the guise of climate change," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

While the bill would impose a "cap-and-trade" system that would force higher energy costs, Republicans for weeks have branded it an energy tax on every American.

Source: Associated Press