Wake up and take notice America, These people are NOT representing The American People but for their own financial and political interest......at are our expense.
- Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.)
- Mississippi Governor Hailey Barbour
- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
- Tom Price (R-GA)
in this case a $20 billion shakedown -- with the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, which has no legal standing, which I think sets a terrible precedent for our nation's future."
"I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize," Barton added. "I do not want to live in a county where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown."
Airing criticisms against the notion of forcing BP to fork over $20 billion in liability revenue would seem like a fairly risky proposition considering just how reviled the oil giant is in the current political environment. And Democrats quickly jumped on the congressman's remark, as well as those from other Republicans, as evidence of a lack of sensitivity for the victims of the spill.
"If they take a huge amount of money and put it in an escrow account so they can't use it to drill oil wells and produce revenue, are they going to be able to pay us?" Barbour told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
For certain, Barton, Bachman, Price and Barbour's comments represented some of the more extreme remarks aired on the issue. But they aren't isolated within the GOP tent, nor are they far removed from the sentiments of party leadership. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office has not commented directly on the escrow account, an aide confirms. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), meanwhile, immediately distanced himself from Barton, telling Fox News on Thursday that he didn't know the context for the apology offered to the oil company, but "I'm glad BP has accepted responsibility for their actions."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, however, has been critical of Obama for not placing his focus on the right venue.
"I don't want to pile on the president, but people need leadership right, and the President has not offered any plan to help the people right now who need it most," the congressman said in a statement. "We're facing a real environmental catastrophe right now and the President has taken no demonstrative action to show that he has a plan and is going to get it done. I do commend the President working with BP to establish the fund, and clearly BP has to pay. For their part, they've stepped up and taken responsibility. But the President still has not offered a fix to the problem at hand, which is plugging the leak and cleaning the mess."
On Thursday morning, meanwhile, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) tried for the fourth time to eliminate the $75 million cap on liability for economic damages that oil companies must pay in the wake of a spill. His effort for a unanimous consent agreement was rejected, once more, by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who said the policy would make drilling offshore economically prohibitive for smaller oil companies.