Deep-Sixing the Facts? — Congress Blinds, Hamstrings Oil Spill Commission

August 11, 2010

Before leaving town for its August vacation, Congress made a point of eliminating all the funding it could for President Obama's oil spill commission and denying that panel the subpoena power it needs to find out what happened or what should be done to prevent another spill.

Obama established the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling on May 22, 2010, and it has a deadline of January 2011 to deliver a final report.

The Congress did not feel the urgency of that deadline when it left for its August recess after stripping $12 million for the commission from an appropriations bill. The commission is also awaiting congressional action to give it subpoena power.

The bill in question was the HR 4899, the war supplemental appropriations bill, which Congress cleared July 27, 2010, and which Obama signed August 29. The House version had included $12 million for the oil spill commission, which is still working on temporary funds. The Senate stripped that funding from the bill.