Nelson: It’s Time For Obama–And The Military–To Step It Up On The Oil Spill

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Not all Democrats are going to bat for President Obama vis a vis his handling of the Gulf oil spill. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) called on Obama today to shake up the arrangement of the cleanup and rescue operation by putting the military in charge.

“The President ought to take charge, the military ought to take charge,” Nelson told reporters this evening, near the Senate floor. “The military can organize it and be the head of the rescue operation, otherwise we have a situation that’s going out of control, with BP doing the running of the show and they’re not getting that done.”

Nelson was unable to explain exactly why the military would be better positioned to handle the crisis, saying only that the need for military involvement is evidenced by BP’s plain failure to stop the leak.“They [the military] are the one organization that knows how to get things organized and has a command structure that they can get things done. And BP needs to be responding to them instead of the U.S. government responding to BP,” Nelson said. “Everybody’s saying that BP’s the only one that has the submersibles that can do anything about it. But thus far, it hasn’t worked.”

Nelson has been pushing legislation that would make oil companies liable for the cost of damages caused by spills up to $10 billion. So far, that bill has been blocked, but Nelson is undeterred. In fact, he says he might tweak the legislation to remove the cap altogether, and call on companies to cover all costs no matter how extensive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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