TRI-CITIES, Wash. - The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that paves the way for the ancient skeleton of Kennewick Man to be returned to a group of Columbia Basin tribes.

The Tri-City Herald reports ( ) that the House approved the bill Wednesday after the Senate passed similar legislation earlier this month.

Experts believe the skeletal remains, which were discovered in 1996 near the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington, are at least 8,400 years old.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray introduced the bill in August, months after new genetic evidence determined the remains were closer to modern Native Americans than any other population in the world.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill still need to be reconciled before Kennewick Man can be returned to his descendants.