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Gulf oil spill: Partisan politics over $20-billion escrow fund

June 17, 2010 |  8:13 am

Even at a congressional hearing where a big oil company has already been targeted as the principal villain, partisan politics between Republicans and Democrats was never far from the surface.

Though castigating BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward and his company’s actions over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was the main goal of the day for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Democrats and Republicans on the panel sparred over the $20-billion escrow fund the company and the Obama administration agreed on Wednesday to establish to aid victims of the disaster.

“I’m ashamed of what happened at the White House” on Wednesday, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said of the agreement, calling it a shakedown.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) quickly rose to the fund’s defense. “It’s not a slush fund, not a shakedown,” he said. “It was the government of the United States working to protect the most vulnerable citizens that we have in our country right now, the residents of the gulf.”

“It's BP's spill,” Markey said, “but it is America's ocean, and it is America's citizens who are being harmed. … No, this is not a shakedown of the company. … This is, in my opinion, the American government working at its best.”

-- Michael Muskal

Twitter.com/LATimesmuskal

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