The plan offered by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., would have raised standards for cars to 40 miles per gallon by 2015. Senators rejected the Durbin amendment by a 32-65 vote.
Instead, as part of its work on a national energy policy, senators adopted a plan crafted by Michigan Democrat Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., that would give regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 30 months to issue new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.
The Detroit Free Press said Levin argued lawmakers lacked the expertise to pick a fair fuel economy target. Regulators would be directed to carefully assess new technology, automakers' product plans, the potential impact on the economy and automotive safety, Levin said, taking politics out of the process.