WASHINGTON – When Congress sent an energy bill to President Bush for his signature, it arrived in a Japanese-built Toyota Prius hybrid — a move that rubbed two Michigan Republicans the wrong way.
"It is a huge slap in the face, calculated I believe, just to demonstrate their complete disregard for the domestic auto industry," said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich.
To Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., it was a "slap in the face of every American auto worker."
They said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., could have provided the same symbolism by sending the bill Wednesday in a U.S.-built hybrid made by Ford Motor Co. or General Motors Corp.
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said the Republicans were "merely attempting to distract from the success of the Democratic energy security legislation" and noted that 95 House Republicans supported the bill. He said the bill would encourage the development of hybrids and alternative vehicles.
Hammill said the Prius was owned by an employee with the Office of the Clerk, which sends bills to the White House.
The bill requires that automakers increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent to an industry average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
The Prius, the most popular gas-electric hybrid in the United States, gets a combined 46 mpg in city and highway driving. The Prius and the 2008 Honda Civic hybrid, which gets a combined 42 mpg, are the only two hybrids sold in the United States today that would meet the new mileage requirements set for 2020.