Is $10 billion too much legal exposure for oil spills?
While Obama administration officials work to encourage Congress to bolster the resources available for the oil disaster response and recovery efforts, one proposal that included a measure to raise the liability cap for oil companies, as the President also favors, has already taken a beating on the Senate floor. But Jeff Liebman, acting deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget says the administration should still find opportunities and a bill that can be used to attach its proposals to.
"There are a number of vehicles moving in this work period, and we hope to work with Congress to get it done within the next few weeks," says Liebman.
But a bill addressing the oil spill, already introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), was blocked on the Senate floor on May 13 by a group of Republicans led by Alaska's Lisa Murkowski. The bill would raise the cap on oil company liability from $75 million to $10 billion.
Menendez says the bill is not dead and that he will try to bring it to the floor again.
Also, investigations into the cause of the spill continue. Hearings on Capitol Hill began the week of May 10 and will continue into the week of the 17th.
The Dept. of Interior's Minerals and Management Service is conducting an investigation of oilrigs and platforms and is expected to submit a report to President Barack Obama by the end of May.
A National Academy of Engineering/National Research Council technical analysis of the spill is just getting underway, says Molly Galvin, a spokesperson for the National Research Council, although members of the panel are still being vetted. An announcement of the names of the panel members is not expected for several weeks, she says.
Additionally, President Obama is expected to establish through an executive order a separate non-partisan commission to conduct an investigation into the spill.