Senate GOP undercuts BP probe

SENATE GOP UNDERCUTS BP PROBE…. Most reasonable people can probably agree that there are some pretty stark ideological divisions in the House of Representatives. With that in mind, when a measure passes the chamber 420 to 1, it stands to reason that it’s a no-brainer.

Or at least, it should be. Last week, the House overwhelmingly approved giving subpoena power to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. The panel was created by the White House to investigate the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, and needs subpoena power to get answers from private industries and government agencies.

Given the 420 to 1 vote, Senate Democrats sought unanimous consent yesterday to resolve the issue and let the commission do its job. It’s an easy one, right? Wrong. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) refused, objecting on behalf of others in the Republican conference that he would not name.

“I have to conclude by the objections that there are colleagues on the other side that either don’t want to get to the bottom of this — or are standing on the side of the oil companies and not of the victims and their families,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told reporters.

I’ve long since run out of adjectives to describe these folks. The commission can’t get answers without subpoena power, and Congress has routinely extended subpoena power to related commissions — including panels investigating the JFK assassination, the Three Mile Island disaster, and the 9/11 attacks. And yet, Senate Republicans yesterday blocked the authority for the BP commission, and wouldn’t say why.