Dem accuses GOPer of 'sandbagging' oil spill legislation

A Democratic senator lashed out at a Republican Thursday who blocked a bill intended to hold oil giant BP more responsible for a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is staunchly opposed to expanded oil drilling off the U.S. coast, posted a message on his Twitter account after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) objected to a unanimous consent request to pass a measure that would raise the liability cap for oil companies that cause spills from $75 million to $10 billion.

"Senator from Alaska just sandbagged my bill to hold BP accountable for up to $10 billion for the oil spill," he said.

Murkowski said that she is open to the idea of raising the cap, but said lawmakers need to consider the amount more carefully. She said if the cap is raised too high, that could squeeze smaller oil companies out of the offshore drilling business because they would not be able to be bonded and insured.

But Democrats attacked Republicans after Murkowski blocked the measure, accusing them of obstructionism.

"Inexplicably, Republicans are protecting negligent oil companies like BP and blocking our efforts to prevent a BP bailout," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement. "Through their obstruction, Republicans are leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay for BP’s negligence."

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a sponsor of the measure, had tweeted about the request earlier in the day.

Cross-posted to the Twitter Room