WASHINGTON Chrysler LLC CEO Bob Nardelli emerged from a meeting with several U.S. senators today and said he was in the nations capital to listen and learn.
The hard-charging executives understatement downplayed the high-stakes issues that he and other industry leaders are trying to shape through increasingly frequent contacts with Washington decision makers.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., suggested industry leaders still have time to influence the outcome of a key issue: fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks over the next decade.
After meeting with Nardelli and other Chrysler executives, Stabenow told reporters she doesnt expect a revised energy bill to be back on the Senate floor before December.
Nardelli was accompanied by Chrysler President Tom LaSorda and John Bozzella, Chryslers vice president for external affairs and public policy.
Also taking part in the midday meeting were Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
Stabenow, Levin and Voinovich favor the position taken by Chrysler and most other automakers. The senators argue that car companies can improve fuel economy, but not as much as Democratic leaders in Congress say the automakers can.
The Senate has voted to raise combined car-truck standards to 35 mpg by 2020, about 40 percent higher than today. Most industry leaders favor a milder alternative. The House has not voted on the issue.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are thought to be engineering an attempt to push a revised energy bill through Congress in coming weeks.
The Chrysler executives would not say what other meetings they scheduled here Wednesday.
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