By blocking Democrats’ attempt to pass the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act – which would ensure BP pays for the full cost of its disastrous negligence by raising the outdated liability cap from $75 million to $10 billion – Republicans are leaving American taxpayers on the hook for bailing out BP. Today, Democrats took to the floor to explain the urgent need to pass this legislation to hold BP accountable and protect the American taxpayer, but Republicans blocked us for a second time in less than a week. Excerpts of Democrats’ remarks today are below.
Nevada Senator Harry Reid: “The fundamental principle behind the Wall Street bill we’ll finish this week is accountability. Those who created the mess bear the responsibility for cleaning it up. One of its most important provisions promises taxpayers they will never again be asked to bail out a big corporation that acted recklessly and put our economy at risk. When it comes to the ongoing catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, our motivation is no different… We have to put our foot down and make clear that taxpayers will not pick up the tab. I will do everything in my power to make sure the polluters pay the price.”
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez: “After all, BP’s profits amounted to $5.6 billion for the first three months of this year. Profits, not proceeds. Profits. That breaks down to $94 million in profits each and every day. That means their current damages liability under the law of $75 million is less than one day’s profits. Less than one day’s profits… But they want taxpayers to bail them out when they spill. It’s fundamentally wrong. Our bill is as simple as it gets. It says no bailout for BP. It says BP pays for its own mess, not the nation’s taxpayers. It says you either want to fully protect the small businesses and communities devastated by the spill or you want to protect multibillion dollar oil companies from being held fully accountable.”
Florida Senator Bill Nelson: “We are looking at a gargantuan economic and environmental disaster facing this nation but particularly those states on the gulf coast and the Atlantic seaboard… The places like the sugary white beaches of northwest Florida, where I will be this Friday, where already the cancellations are coming right and left as their tourist season starts, and hotels that would normally have 85% occupancy are less than 20% occupancy. You see the economic consequences from this… For the life of me, I can’t understand someone objecting as they are going to do in raising an artificial limit of $75 million, up to at least $10 billion, and it’s probably going to exceed $10 billion. But the argument you’re going to hear is they are going to say oh, it shouldn’t be this, it ought to be tied to profit. Now, is it really responsible public policy to say that because of a company makes less money that it should be responsible for less damage? No.”
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg: “And we’re going to see here today, as we saw the other day, a response from the other side, and I hope that they have the courage, the guts to stand up here and say where were the ordinary American taxpayers, or maybe we like the other guys better, maybe we like big oil better. Will the United States Senate stand with fishing industries and hard-working men and women who make a living providing sustenance to our nation, or will it continue its stand with big oil?… Our colleagues, they stayed true to the oil companies, they stood up and they wanted to make sure that they blocked any attempt to pass a bill that would raise the liability. So here we are back today again to urge our colleagues to stand up for the American taxpayers who are sick and tired of bailouts.”
Washington Senator Patty Murray: “Now, Mr. President, the questions are: who should be responsible for this cleanup? Who should bear the burden for big oil’s mistakes? Should it be the taxpayers, families and small business owners who are already being asked to bear so much today? Or should it be BP, the company that is responsible for this spill and that made $6.1 billion in profits in the first three months of this year alone? Mr. President, I cosponsored the prevention act because, to me the answer’s pretty clear. I believe that BP needs to be held accountable for the environmental and economic damage of this spill, and I’m going to continue to fight to make sure that our taxpayers do not end up using a single dime to pay for the mess this big oil company created. To me, this is an issue of fundamental fairness. If an oil company causes a spill, they should be the one to pay to clean it up, not the taxpayers.”
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin: “As Senator Murray has said and Senator Menendez has said and Senator Nelson has said, it’s basically whose side you’re on. Who should pay for this disaster? Should it be the taxpayers of this country? Should it be the small business owners whose livelihood is now in jeopardy? Should it be the property owners who are going to suffer damage? No. It should be BP oil and its affiliates. That’s what the Menendez bill does. It places responsibility on the appropriate party. BP should pay.”
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar: “I recently saw firsthand the miles and miles of oil slick in the gulf coast. The scope of the disaster is staggering. This should not threaten the entire coast of our country. But beyond that, potentially, if they close the port of New Orleans, you think of the effect on Minnesota, if the oil keeps spreading the effect it will have on other parts of the country. I don’t think the taxpayers of this country should have to pay for that. That is why I support the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act, which will ensure that the current liability act for a single oil spill will not apply to the gulf coast oil disaster. It will make sure that BP, which flaunted its record profits of $6 billion in the first-quarter of this year alone, that they pay for this. And the taxpayers of this country which are already burdened with the costs of the difficult times of this economy and what wall street has done that they are not stuck with the bill here.”