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WASHINGTON _ The Senate stood by the high-powered vehicles of suburbia and the open road Wednesday by refusing to require tougher fuel economy standards for sport-utility vehicles, minivans, cars and pickup trucks.
Detroit and automobile workers supplied the lobbying punch, and fear of a possible backlash by the "soccer mom" vote provided the political motivation as the Senate turned its back on tougher mileage standards contained in a major energy bill.
Rather than requiring new cars, SUVs and minivans to get an average of 36 miles per gallon by 2015, senators voted 62-38 for a much weaker provision supported by the auto industry. It would order the Transportation Department to develop unspecified new fuel economy rules for cars and light trucks, a category that includes SUVs and minivans, within two years.
Automakers and their workers argued that the bill's tougher standards would cost thousands of jobs and force them to make fewer of the popular SUVs and minivans. Democrats such as Sen. Barbara Mikulski …