Congressional Democrats and the White House are toying with different ways to force BP to cover the costs of damages from the Gulf oil spill. But they face stiff opposition from industry…and it seems leading Republicans. In response to a question from TPMDC, House Minority Leader John Boehner said he believes taxpayers should help pick up the tab for the clean up.
“I think the people responsible in the oil spill—BP and the federal government—should take full responsibility for what’s happening there,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference this morning.
Boehner’s statement followed comments last Friday by US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue who said he opposes efforts to stick BP, a member of the Chamber, with the bill. “It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game,” he said. “Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. We are all going to have to do it. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that.”
So today I asked Boehner, “Do you agree with Tom Donohue of the Chamber that the government and taxpayers should pitch in to clean up the oil spill?” The shorter answer is yes.
The Chamber is extremely influential in Republican politics, so on that level it’s not particularly surprising that Boehner has Donohue’s back on this one. But the politics of asking the federal government (i.e. taxpayers) to help cover the multi-billion dollar cleanup and rescue efforts are deadly. Look for Democrats to jump all over this one.
Late update: Boehner spokesman Michael Steel emails to say “Boehner made a general statement about who is responsible for the spill, and the federal government oversight was clearly lacking, but he has said repeatedly that BP is responsible for the cost of the cleanup.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.