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Good: Senate GOP will lift block on subpoena power against BP

Okay, it turns out Senate Republicans are going to do the right thing and support giving officials the subpoena power to probe BP.

The Senate GOP leadership has decided they have no objections to legislation giving subpoena power to the White House commission probing the oil spill, and will not block the bill from moving forward, aides tell me. The move will cheer liberals and Dems who were hoping to move this towards passage quickly.

Last week the House near-unanimously passed legislation giving the commission that power, but yesterday, Senator Jim DeMint infuriated Democrats by putting a block on the legislation when a Dem brought it to the floor for a voice vote.

DeMint claimed he was doing this on behalf of unnamed GOP Senators in his caucus, prompting Dems to charge that Republicans were shielding Big Oil from a real probe.

But the Senate GOP leadership has informed DeMint's office that it has no objections to the legislation, and it will proceed, DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton tells me.

"Senator DeMint does not and will not have an objection to this legislation," says Denton. "He simply objected on behalf of other senators who had not been given time to review the bill. Now that they've had time to review it, it seems no one has an objection."

So why was this blocked yesterday?

According to a DeMint aide, he happened to be on the floor when a Democratic Senator introduced the bill for a voice vote. DeMint was told by GOP leadership aides to hold up the bill because leadership hadn't had a chance to read it, the DeMint aide says.

But now that the leadership has read the bill and decided it has no objections, it will move forward if a Dem asks again for it to be passed by unanimous consent.

In truth, it would have been politically very difficult for Republicans to block this. Their decision to let it move forward deprives Dems of a potent talking point. But it's a good development.

UPDATE, 4:17 p.m.: Don Stewart, a spokesman for Mitch McConnell, confirms that the leadership has no objections to the bill. "I don't know of any objections," he says. "What I do know is that there is bipartisan support."

By Greg Sargent  |  July 1, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  Climate change , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Good work, Greg! You da man!

Posted by: wbgonne | July 1, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Demint is an awful person.

Posted by: SDJeff | July 1, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

This spill is not, of course, a "natural disaster". So most everyone agrees (publicly, at least) that BP and other responsible corporate entities should cover the costs.

But what about if a natural disaster strikes - a volcanic eruption or an earthquake? Who covers the cost? Is it ok to raise taxes to cover this? Not according to Norquist...

"Reporting from Sacramento — One of the first actions that Republican Meg Whitman took upon declaring her candidacy for governor was signing a pledge never to raise taxes — but on Tuesday she added a hedge to that vow.

The candidate suggested that she might consider a tax hike in the event of an extreme natural disaster. It seemed a subtle step back, but among the anti-tax crusaders who have persuaded almost every GOP state officeholder and top-ticket candidate to sign the pledge, there is no hedging allowed.",0,229962.story

Posted by: bernielatham | July 1, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Meg Witless. Sigh.

Posted by: jzap | July 1, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

So, will DeMint name the Senators who wanted the legislation held up?

How much longer will these creatures hide?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | July 1, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to use this moment to criticize the GOP for temporarily blocking anything.

I'd much rather use this moment to welcome the GOP to America, after all, they've not been here (mentally) since the last Presidential election.

Hello Boys!

Posted by: lindalovejones | July 1, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

And of course no reporter thought to ask DeMint's spokesman to name the other senators who wanted a hold on the bill.

Posted by: danielfboone | July 1, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Seems the GOPs simply had not been "given time" to review the bill. Apparently the rest of the Senate had adequate time. But those bully Dems must have played a vicious game of keep-away, tossing the bill over the heads of the GOPs as they begged for just a glance at the bill. Those horrible horrible liberals

Posted by: mountainboot | July 6, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

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