Video: Don't change liability law on BP, says Chamber of Commerce's Donohue

Congress is considering raising a corporate liability cap from $75 million to $10 billion. Thomas Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce, says that's 'changing the rules in the middle of the game.'
US Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue addresses legislation calling for raising the liability cap on BP for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters Friday.

The head of the nation’s largest business lobbying group says Congress should not retroactively raise the liability cap on BP to pay for damage from the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Friday, US Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said, “It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game.”

Referring to legislation introduced in Congress to raise the current $75 million liability cap to $10 billion, Mr. Donohue said, “I would like to do the surgery after we get the diagnosis, you know. Everybody is going to contribute to this cleanup. We are all going to have to do it. But punitive … let’s find somebody? You know, the president yesterday said he is responsible for all of this. I don’t think he is going to pay for it.”

Donohue argued that the best approach to the spill was “to look at this in a very cold reality of what we have to do and how we are going to clean it up. I just don’t think running out and changing the rules in the middle of the game" is the best approach. He added, "We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies, and we will figure out a way to do that.” BP announced Friday that it has already spent $930 million responding to the spill.

As for efforts in Congress to change the liability limits, the Chamber president said, “I am just not excited about what they are doing, but we are not lobbying on it yet.” The Chamber of Commerce spent more than $144 million on lobbying and grass-roots organizing last year.

At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing earlier this week, Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli said, “Our view is that there is a strong chance to defeat any [legal challenge] if Congress were to lift the caps,” according to a report from Reuters.


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