While Members of the House were being briefed by Admiral Thad Allen on our recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast, some Republicans were cozying up to the Big Oil executives that caused the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history. Instead of standing up for the people, businesses and environment of the Gulf Coast, House Republicans have once again sided with Big Oil.
This morning, in a hearing with BP CEO Tony Hayward, Joe Barton, Republican Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, apologized to BP about the $20 billion accountability fund the White House had them establish to pay claims to the victims of the spill. He said,
"I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown."
A tragedy that BP should be held responsible for the damage they've done to our environment and our communities? Really?!?!?
Michelle Bachman, a Republican from Minnesota, called the fund a "redistribution of wealth fund." Yes - a redistribution of wealth from a rich oil company to American families whose livelihood and environment the company has put at risk. And, Congressman Tom Price of Georgia, the Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, also came down on the side of the BP.
Republicans even held a news conference to demand MORE offshore drilling as oil continues gushing into the Gulf.
Democrats are working to ensure an effective federal response that assists impacted communities and holds BP - not the taxpayer - accountable.
Democrats are on the side of the families living on the Gulf Coast who have faced more than their share of tragedy. 50 Democratic Members of Congress told BP to halt their dividend payments. Along with continued pressure from the White House, BP finally announced that they would suspend payouts to their shareholders for the year and create a $20 billion escrow fund instead to pay for the economic and environmental costs of the oil spill.
Cross-posted on the House Democrats Blog