Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, delivered the Democratic response Saturday
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Democratic senator said a new energy plan backed by both Democrats and Republicans is sorely needed in the United States, where motorists face a summer of dramatic hikes in gas prices.
"All it takes is one trip to the gas station to know Americans face an energy crisis," said Maria Cantwell of Washington state in the weekly Democratic radio address.
"Congress needs to take America's hope about a clean energy plan and turn it into a reality."
Cantwell, who decried American dependence on foreign oil, supports a more centralized energy plan that would reduce the cost of fuel. Such a plan, she believes, would preserve thousands of U.S. jobs and support small businesses hurt by rising fuel costs.
Congressional lawmakers began debating energy legislation this week.
Senate Democrats are working on what they call a "bipartisan" energy measure with positive environmental and economic benefits. The Senate bill, and a similar measure in the House, would force automakers to increase the fuel economy of their cars and light trucks.
Cantwell voiced her party's support for President Bush's call for a better energy policy, and urged the public to influence Bush and members of the Republican Party to vote for a bipartisan bill.