Shaheen seeks deal on spill commission subpoena power before Senate departs

The Senate is slated to adjourn as soon as Wednesday until after the mid-term elections. “I am going to continue to pursue it until we leave,” said Shaheen, who has sponsored legislation to empower the commission to compel witness testimony.

The House voted 420-1 in June to give the commission subpoena power. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it is not clear if Democrats will seek to pass the bill before the recess.

“We have tried several times before and Republicans have objected every time,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley said when asked if Democrats would seek unanimous consent from Republicans to quickly clear the measure.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could not be reached for comment. But the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that McConnell spokesman Don Stewart “said that Republicans supported giving subpoena power to a bipartisan, congressionally appointed panel, not a panel appointed by Mr. Obama that some Republicans view as partisan.”

The White House-created panel – which is probing the “root causes” of the accident and policy changes to prevent future spills – has a mid-January deadline to submit a final report to President Obama.