Earlier this week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) was asked by a reporter if “taxpayers should help pick up the tab for the clean up” of the Gulf in the wake of the BP oil disaster. “I think the people responsible in the oil spill — BP and the federal government — should take full responsibility for what’s happening there,” replied Boehner, echoing an argument by the Chamber of Commerce that taxpayers should pay for part of the clean up.
Boehner’s office quickly tried to walk back his comments, saying that Boehner stood by an early May statement that “not a dime of taxpayer money should be used to clean up [BP's] mess.” On ABC News’ This Week today, Boehner continued his effort to clean up his comments, claiming that he’s said “from the beginning” that BP is fully responsible:
BOEHNER: The American people want this oil leak stopped now. They want to know what happened. They want the Gulf cleaned up. And they want it all done now. And I just think that BP ought to be held responsible for all of the costs that are involved in this. I’ve said that right from the beginning. And I continue to believe that. I’m not sure that the federal government, though, was, isn’t also responsible. The laws that were in place. The materials that should have been in place for a spill this size were not. And the reaction, I think, on the part of the administration has been slow. But having said that, it’s time to get this thing stopped now.
TAPPER: Alright, so just to clear, just to clear up what you said earlier this week. On Thursday, you said that BP and the federal government should take full responsibility. To clarify that, you think BP needs to pay?
BOEHNER: I’ve said from the beginning, BP needs to pay for the entire cost of this. But the federal government — this is a failure of government. Government is there to protect our shores, to protect our environment, and there’s been a real failure here.
Tapper then asked Boehner if he supports the effort by Democrats “to lift the liability cap” on BP for the spill. “I believe that lifting the liability cap on BP and for this spill is appropriate,” replied Boehner. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) interjected that “the Republicans have been holding up lifting the cap in the Senate.” Watch it:
Last month, Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) blocked legislation lifting the liability cap from coming to a vote.