Late today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill that would -- as requested by the President -- clarify that the Department of Transportation has authority to change fuel efficiency requirements for passenger cars. Over the objections of Democrats, the committee narrowly approved the bill in a 28 to 26 vote.
The committee rejected actual attempts to improve fuel economy.
An amendment offered by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., that would require fuel efficiency standards to go from a fleet average of 27.5 miles per gallon to 33 mpg after model year 2015 easily failed in a 36 to 17 vote.
Although supporters of the amendment argued that key scientists say the higher standards can be met today without compromising vehicle safety, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said setting "an arbitrary" number would be painful for the U.S. auto industry and small business owners in his state. "This is an arbitrary, political number," he said, arguing that if consumers want more fuel efficient vehicles, they can already buy them.