Cassidy Offers Amendment To Block Politicization Of Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund

May 26, 2010

Washington, DC – Louisiana Congressman Bill Cassidy introduced an amendment to the “Extenders” bill (H.R. 4213) to prevent the politicization of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a fund dedicated to covering the cost of cleaning up and compensating victims of oil spills. The legislation, a grab bag of tax provisions and social spending, proposes quadrupling the current eight-cents-per-barrel tax that funds the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund in order to offset unrelated programs.

“As the incident in the Gulf clearly demonstrates, we need a robust Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to clean up spills and compensate their victims,” said Cassidy.

“Polluting the Trust Fund with unrelated spending threatens to undermine its mission and potentially its solvency. The plight of the Social Security Trust Fund exemplifies what can happen when Washington plays politics with dedicated funds. What was once a safeguard for retirees has become a political football. That tragedy doesn’t deserve a sequel.”

“This isn’t a question of whether the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund needs additional revenue; it’s a question of whether Congress possesses the restraint to keep dedicated funds dedicated to their purpose. The fact that Democrats cannot muster the will to pay for a set of generally popular extenders proves that they lack any restraint at all.”

According to Congressional Quarterly, “Democratic tax writers are considering a plan to as much as quadruple the size of an industrywide excise tax on oil production as they try to finalize a package of tax cut and economic aid extensions, a Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee said Thursday. Targeting oil companies for tax revenue in the aftermath of the Gulf Coast oil spill would help Democrats pay for the costs of the tax ‘extenders’ and spending bill (HR 4213).”

As POLITICO explains, “[The extenders] bill advanced in the Senate even as tax writers demanded billions more from Big Oil to address future spills — and, well, oil the Democrats’ own budget machinery … The White House this week endorsed a one penny-per-barrel increase in fees paid by petroleum companies to cover future damage claims. But House tax writers are shooting beyond that in hopes of raising closer to $10 billion over the next decade to meet their budget targets.”

Rejected on party lines in a contentious Rules Committee hearing, Cassidy’s amendment aimed to keep “any revenue derived from the excise tax on oil production … to fund the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, and be spent in accordance with the purpose of such Fund, including paying for the cleanup of, the damages incurred by all individuals, businesses, States, municipalities, and natural resources negatively impacted by, the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and any future spills; and may not be used by Congress to fund unrelated policies and programs.”

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