Rep. Michele Bachmann on Wednesday appeared to back off her criticisms of the Obama administration’s plans to have BP pay for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as other Republicans weighed in the plan: Rep. Joe Barton apologized to BP for the escrow fund, while Republican Rep. Jeff Miller called for Barton to step down from his leadership post on the House energy committee. Meanwhile, Bachmann’s opponent this fall, DFL Sen. Tarry Clark, pounced on Bachmann’s earlier criticisms, stating unequivocally, “I stand with taxpayers” — not BP.
On Tuesday, Bachmann said that a $20 billion victims escrow amounted to “wealth redistribution,” urged BP executives not to be “chumps,” and said the Obama administration was “fleecing” BP. But on Wednesday, she told CNN, “I’m not here to shill for BP. That’s not the goal. BP clearly is at fault here. They need to pay every last dime of damage and that’s what needs to be done. But at the same time, we don’t want these payouts to become political.”
Sen. Clark seized on Bachmann’s earlier statements.
“Let me be clear: I stand with the victims of this tragedy and the American taxpayers. They are the ones who deserve to be defended,” Clark said in a statement. “But instead, Congresswoman Bachmann has risen to the defense of BP. Holding BP accountable for this disaster is not ‘fleecing’ it. It’s making sure they do what’s right by the citizens of the Gulf whose livelihoods are threatened and by all Americans who want the Gulf cleaned up.”
She added, “Michele Bachmann refuses to hold BP accountable — but I will. Make no mistake, I stand with taxpayers, not BP.”
Bachmann isn’t the only Republican seeming to defend BP.
On Thursday afternoon, Texas Rep. Barton, the ranking Republican on the Energy Committee, apologized to BP for the White House’s creation of the victims’ escrow, calling it a “shakedown” and a “slush fund.”
Barton’s comments prompted fellow Republican Rep. Jeff Miller to call for Barton’s resignation from the committee.
I condemn Mr. Barton’s statement. Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He should step down as Ranking Member of the Committee.
And Minority Leader John Boehner said on Thursday that Barton was wrong.
“I have said since the beginning that BP ought to be responsible for all of this cleanup,” Boehner told Fox News. “The fact is that they’ve agreed to put this $20 billion in escrow. I don’t know what context Mr. Barton was making that remark, but I’m glad that BP has accepted responsibility for their actions.”