The auto industry spent a combined $70.3 million lobbying the U.S. government last year, setting a new record for the bill, which came in 19.6% higher than the previous year. The inflated level of spending was driven mostly by new CAFE regulations voted in over the past 12 months.

The finding was the result of a new report compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics located in Washington. Counting all the businesses, labor unions, separate governments and other interest groups, the total spent on lobbying Washington in 2007 was a record $2.79 billion, up 7.7% on the previous year, reports The Detroit News.

GM once again spent the most of any carmaker in 2007, running up a bill of $14.3 million. Ford came in second with a bill of $7.2 million and Toyota was third with $5.9 million. This year, GM has already spent $4.1 million on lobbying.

The biggest worry for carmakers was the new CAFE regulation approved by Congress in December. The new rules will force carmaker fleets to average 35mpg by 2020