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."
July 1, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
Categories: Climate change , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans
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