By Eric Zimmermann - 05/18/10 09:16 PM EDT
President Barack Obama harshly criticized Senate Republicans today for blocking a measure to raise the liability cap on oil spills.
Under current law, oil companies can only be held liable for $75 million of damages. After the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, senators from both parties have proposed drastically raising the cap to as high as $17 billion.
But the last two times the measure has come up on the Senate floor, individual Republicans have objected.
"I am disappointed that an effort to ensure that oil companies pay fully for disasters they cause has stalled in the United States Senate on a partisan basis. This maneuver threatens to leave taxpayers, rather than the oil companies, on the hook for future disasters like the BP oil spill," Obama said in a statement this afternoon.
"I urge the Senate Republicans to stop playing special interest politics and join in a bipartisan effort to protect taxpayers and demand accountability from the oil companies," he added.
This morning, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) objected to the legislation, arguing the $10 billion proposed cap was arbitrary. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) objected the last time the cap came up for a vote.
Gulf State Republicans David Vitter (La.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Roger Wicker (Miss.) and George LeMieux (Fla.) offered their own legislation, which would increase the liability cap to $17 billion.