The House of Representatives today voted 269 to 160 against an amendment that would have required SUVs, minivans and light trucks to meet the same higher fuel mileage requirements of passenger cars in six years. Under the amendment, U.S. automakers would have been forced to improve fuel efficiency of light trucks from the current 20.7 mpg to 27.5 mpg by 2007.

Opponents of the bill said the higher fuel-efficiency requirements would force automakers to build lighter, unsafe vehicles. Some Democrats along with environmentalists claim the fuel savings would increase the fuel efficiency of light trucks by less than one mpg.

The House energy bill already included language requiring the Transportation Department to reduce the gasoline used by SUVs and light trucks by 5-billion gallons between 2004 and 2010.