06/19/2010 11:18 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Simple Answer to "Who Should Pay?"

"Who should pay?"

It's a straightforward question. Yet last week, Republican Minority Leader John Boehner said both BP and the federal government were responsible, and both should pay. He knew he really stepped in it - because he couldn't retreat from that statement fast enough.

But, all it takes is a few days for Boehner to go back to saying he's "not sure that the federal government isn't also responsible." And now he's joined by a chorus of his Republican colleagues complaining that the new $20 million escrow fund BP is required to set up is a "shakedown", and just isn't fair.

They're right - it isn't fair - it doesn't go far enough.

BP should pay ALL the costs - all the compensation claims, all the fines, all of the cleanup costs, everything. Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay a dime.

Words are cheap - clean up is expensive. So if Boehner really believes BP should pay for the Gulf oil spill recover, he needs to back up his words with action now.

Congressman Rush Holt and I have sent Boehner a letter calling on him to lead his caucus and help us pass an amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 that would require BP to pay for ALL containment and removal efforts and reasonable damages resulting from this disaster.

Will you help us push him to do the right thing, stand by his statements, and make sure BP pays and taxpayers don't? Click here to sign your name to our letter now.

Amending the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 is a straightforward, simple way for us to end this discussion, and hold the right people responsible. And that is just what we need right now - to clean up the Gulf, AND to make sure big oil companies pick up the costs of any future spills.

BP says it is doing everything it can, and its apologists tell us that the issue is "complicated" and will continue to offer weak bills that would allow BP to avoid most of the costs. Republicans in the Senate have already torpedoed a plan to raise BP's liability cap from a measly $75 million.

While they tap dance around the issue, our country is suffering from the worst environmental disaster in our lifetime.

I participated in a Congressional hearing Tuesday and heard BP executives and their apologists' full song and dance: Excuses and rationalizations and equivocation - but no action. And then today, while I grilled BP CEO Tony Hayward, my Republican colleagues apologized to him for the $20 billion fund requirement!

If we don't draw a line in the sand, and hold them to their promises, they will continue to try to finagle a way out of paying, and find a roundabout way to stick taxpayers with the bill.

If John Boehner really believes that taxpayers shouldn't pay for the Gulf oil spill, he has a clear path forward -- just reach across the aisle and help create a bipartisan push to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 that would force BP to pay the full costs of this disaster.

"Who should pay?" It is a straightforward question - it deserves straightforward action. It is time to demand justice.