Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue has issued a statement clarifying his position on who should pay for damages resulting from the Gulf oil spill. Congress, he seems to say, shouldn’t legally require BP to cover all costs, but BP will ultimately have to pay for everything.
The spill, Donohue says, “will require significant long-term attention from BP, the federal government, state and local authorities, volunteers, and the entire business community. While the depth and breadth of the consequences are unknown, clearly BP will have to assume its responsibilities over the long-term.”
“Let me be clear: the recovery costs should not be on the backs of American taxpayers or the businesses that have been adversely affected by this tragedy,” Donohue adds.
How to hold BP’s feet to the fire, so they don’t skip out on damages, which are expected to run tens of billions of dollars? That much is unclear. “We believe that abandoning the rule of law and retroactively changing the liability cap is not the best approach.”
That puts him roughly in the same position as House Minority Leader John Boehner, who acceded yesterday that BP will ultimately have to pay the full tab.
At a Christian Science Monitor media breakfast on May 28, Donohue clearly insisted that the government (meaning taxpayers) would have to pitch in to defray the costs of the spill.
“It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game,” Donohue 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.”
Those remarks got Boehner into trouble yesterday, when he first echoed them, and then refused to distance himself from the Chamber. Ultimately, though, Boehner broke from Donohue and, through a spokesman, said BP will be on the hook for every penny.
Video of that comment here:
I’ve put a call in to the Chamber for further clarification, and will report back if they provide any more information.
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.