Nelson vows continued attempts to raise oil company liability cap

The bill is one of several Capitol Hill responses to BP’s ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Murkowski objected to Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-N.J.) request for “unanimous consent.” Murkowski said she’s open to raising the limit, but that the Democrats’ plan would have made it impossible for smaller, independent companies to obtain the insurance and bonding needed to operate offshore.

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have also floated their own plan to raise the liability limit. It would create a cap equivalent to the last four quarters of the responsible party’s profits or double the current limit, whichever is greater, they said Thursday.

But even though some GOP members are also pushing for higher liability, Democrats are seeking to transform Republicans’ objection to Nelson's plan into a political liability for the GOP.

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

BP officials have vowed that their payments will exceed the $75 million damages cap anyway, and that they will pay all “legitimate” claims.


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