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Republicans reject 'blame game' on oil spill

At a small scrum inside the Capitol, reporters asked Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) variations of the same question -- did he assign any blame to the Obama administration for the disaster on the Gulf Coast?

"That's not constructive at this point," said an exasperated LeMieux, turning away. "I don't want to play that part of the game."

LeMieux was one of multiple senators who spent part of the day distancing themselves from the "who's to blame?" narrative running through conservative -- and other -- media.

"There's going to be plenty of time to assign blame," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) at the Senate GOP leadership's afternoon press conference. "What we need to focus on right now is how we tame the devastation." Moments later, she took a brief swipe at the White House, saying it took "nine days for the administration to determine that this incident was in the national interest," but she followed that by arguing strongly against demonizing oil companies.

"Folks want to bring the individuals, the execs from BP, in here, and basically start pounding them," said Murkowski. "My interest right now is that anybody who can do anything to tame the spill is doing that right now, rather than worrying about coming up here and briefing Congress."

In a short interview, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) expanded on comments he made yesterday at a press conference written up here by Dana Milbank. The thrust: Not only is this not a time for blame, it's a time to think about spending more money to prepare.

"It's conceivable that they've gone so long without any accidents that there's some complacency here, both on regulators' parts and by those being regulated," said Sessions.

Asked specifically about whether the Obama administration erred in not purchasing oil-burning equipment and having it ready to go, Sessions simply suggested that all sides needed to do more. "There's a new intensity of interest in reviewing everything at risk. I think that's a good thing. We need the equipment on hand, we need to examine the shut-off valves."

By David Weigel  |  May 4, 2010; 3:40 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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