Why Dems Want $20 Billion From BP

An escrow-style fund would be set aside to pay for damages

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The White House and Senate Democrats are demanding that BP set aside a large sum of money to pay for the economic damage of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While the White House hasn't named a number, the majority of the Senate Democratic caucus say BP should give $20 billion to a third party for later use in paying for damages and clean-up costs. The money would be paid out to businesses and individuals claiming damages from the oil spill. The demand comes as the White House puts pressure on BP to expedite recovery efforts.

  • Why This Could Be Necessary The Wall Street Journal Amy Schatz spells out the Democratic logic. "Such a fund would provide a measure of security, proponents argue, for people concerned BP might file for bankruptcy protection or otherwise stop paying claims at some point in the future. It also has the potential to give the government or its designees control of distributing a significant pool of relief money."
  • Obama's Authority to Do This The Chicago Tribune's David Savage explains, "The Obama administration could use its legal authority under the federal oil pollution act -- the landmark legislation passed a year after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill --- to force BP to set up such a fund to cover damages that are likely to be astronomical and could prove to be a burden even for BP, which posted a $6.1-billion profit last quarter."
  • Dems Champion Outrage at BP The Washington Post's Greg Sargent writes, "It's a sign that Dems -- perhaps belatedly -- are displaying some real anger here and are keeping the spotlight on BP and the need to hold it accountable. The House GOP leadership has now endorsed lifting the liability cap, but Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts to lift it in the Senate. Dem Senate leaders, it seems, recognize they have a winning issue on their hands and intend to press the point."
  • Behind the Scenes, BP and White House Clash The Washington Post's Joel Achenbach reports, "BP did not reject the demands out of hand, and it took pains to avoid anything resembling a confrontational posture as it prepares for Wednesday's session. Behind the scenes, the situation is much tenser. The administration, under immense political pressure to show that it's fully in charge, is pressing BP to fully clean up the mess both environmentally and economically. BP, however, fears any plan going forward that would create a potentially unlimited liability."
  • Conveying 'Presidential Command' The New York Times' Jackie Calmes sees this is part of "a week of activities intended to convey presidential command of a crisis that continues to test both the government and BP, which said Monday that its costs of responding to the spill had risen to $1.6 billion."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.