Senators unveil bill to funnel oil-spill penalty money to Gulf

“This was hard,” Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerDem senator pushes EPA on asbestos regulations Trump was wrong: Kaine is a liberal in a moderate's clothing Feds weigh whether carbon pollution should be measured in highway performance MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday, saying that there were many disagreements among senators about how best to distribute the money.

But Boxer, who helped craft the legislation, said the compromise bill represents an unusual example of bipartisanship at a time when Democrats and Republicans are battling over raising the debt ceiling.

“Every once in a while these magical moments happen,” Boxer said.

“Do you think we could become a model of finding the sweet spot on some other things we need to find the sweet spot on?” Sen. Bill NelsonBill NelsonNew study. Space, security, and Congress Puerto Rico task force asks for help in charting island's economic course Making the switch to a more competitive freight rail industry MORE (D-Fla.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in reference to high-stakes debt negotiations.

Boxer said she hopes to vote on the bill in her committee before the August recess. Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuFive reasons the Trump campaign is in deep trouble Louisiana gov: Trump helped 'shine a spotlight' on flood recovery Giuliani: Trump 'more presidential' than Obama in Louisiana visit MORE (D-La.), the lead co-sponsor of the legislation, said she is confident that the bill will be signed into law by President Obama, adding that House lawmakers are working to build support for the bill.

Funneling a large portion of oil-spill penalty money to Gulf states has won the support of Obama, as well as the national oil-spill commission.

In total, 35 percent of the penalty money is evenly split among the five Gulf coast states under the legislation. Thirty percent goes to a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and another 30 percent is divvied up among states based on those most heavily affected by the spill. The remaining 5 percent will be allocated equally for Gulf science and fisheries programs.

BP and the other companies deemed responsible for the spill face billions of dollars in penalties. If BP is deemed negligent under the Clean Water Act by the courts, the company will have to pay $1,000 for every barrel of oil spilled into the Gulf. If the courts find that BP was grossly negligent, the company will have to pay $4,200 per barrel.

Last year's spill spewed about 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, meaning BP could have to fork over between $5.4 billion and $21.1 billion.

Sens. Landrieu and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) are the lead sponsors of the bill. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Nelson, David VitterDavid VitterFive reasons the Trump campaign is in deep trouble Obama: Louisiana flooding 'not a photo op issue’ Louisiana senator calls on FEMA to open recovery centers MORE (R-La.), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSessions: 'I can be supportive' of Trump's immigration plans Hard-liners shrug off Trump’s softer tone on immigration Trump vows to protect jobs, wages for Hispanic voters MORE (R-Ala.), Thad CochranThad CochranWhy a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform Capitol locked down for second time in a week This week: Congress eyes the exits in dash to recess MORE (R-Miss.), Roger WickerRoger WickerMcAuliffe: I wouldn't want a 'caretaker' in Kaine's Senate seat Top GOP senator: Trump will have little effect on Senate races GOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump MORE (R-Miss.), Marco RubioMarco RubioWould internet transition have an impact on current US election? Conway: Trump will take a look at deportation policy Latino Republicans split on Trump's outreach MORE (R-Fla.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).