WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate rejected efforts Tuesday night to toughen auto pollution controls in a compromise clean air bill as opponents of the measure successfully argued the provision is ``a prescription for deadlock.'The vote was 52-46 to kill an amendment that would have required considerably tighter emissions controls on automobiles than a compromise bill crafted by Senate leaders and the White House. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., voted to keep the amendment, Terry Sanford, D-N.C., voted against it.
It also called for 1 million vehicles capable of burning fuels other than gasoline toward the end of the decade.
Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., and other backers of the amendment argued that additional restrictions are needed because autos ``are the biggest source of pollution in our cities.'
But Senate leaders and supporters of the compromise bill characterized the tougher requirement as threatening enactment of any clean air legislation this year because of the strong opposition from the Bush administration.
Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, called the amendments ``a prescription for deadlock' on the bill before the Senate.
Meanwhile, the compromise was under attack on another front Tuesday in a dispute over whether the federal government should provide assistance to coal miners who lose their jobs because of the bill.
Wirth said on the floor that the coal miner assistance proposal ``appears to have a majority of the votes.'
Negotiations have been under way with the Bush administration to see if all parties could agree on help for miners.
The White House has objected to the plan's $700 million price tag and has characterized it as a ``deal breaker' if some compromise cannot be reached with the sponsor, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.