A U.S. House of Representatives committee has approved legislation that for the first time in six years would clear the way for the U.S. government to increase the fuel efficiency standard for sport-utility vehicles, minivans and pickup trucks. The $59.1-billion bill funding transportation programs in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 wouldn't prohibit studying an increase. Since 1995, Congress has, in annual transportation funding bills, prohibited such studies. The House Appropriations Committee approved the measure. Automakers believe the Bush administration will prevent a big change in the standard, according to Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. While President Bill Clinton wanted a 40-percent increase, President George W. Bush has said he wants to leave the standard where it is or increase it only slightly, according to Bergquist. Vice President Dick Cheney, who is head of the White House's energy task force, told GM executives on June 18 that the Bush administration has no plans to pursue higher fuel-efficiency standards, according to the Detroit News. Light trucks, a category that includes the off-road SUVs and minivans popular with American families, accounted for almost half of light vehicle sales last year. Current law requires them to get 20.7 miles per gallon, compared with 27.5 mpg for cars.