WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The U.S. Senate on Thursday, Oct.16, voted to restore nearly all of the government funding for hydrogen car research that the Obama administration had proposed to cut, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

But last week's vote isn't expected to dispel the controversy surrounding hydrogen vehicles. The technology's viability has been questioned. Energy Secretary Steven Chu once joked in a magazine interview that the technology needs four "miracles" before it can become widely adopted -- and "saints only need three." 

Supporters of funding the technology point to hydrogen cars' potential for reaching the goal of emission-free vehicles. Critics of that strategy argue that the technology presents too many costly obstacles.

Before the vehicles can be manufactured on a wide commercial scale, the industry may need as much as $55 billion more in government funding over the next 15 years, according to industry estimates. The money is needed for research and subsidies to build fueling stations. Last week's Senate measure allocated $187 million. 

Today, there are fewer than 200 hydrogen cars operating in the country, the L.A. Times reported.