Republicans Hone Oil Spill Criticism Ahead of Obama Speech

By Alex Pepper

Jun 15, 2010 11:56am

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: Republicans sharpened their criticism of President Obama’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday morning, accusing him of us a planned address to the nation Tuesday night from the oval office to gain political ground out of the economic and environmental catastrophe. “Since the outset of this crisis, they’ve clearly been more focused on identifying a scapegoat than in taking charge,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, in a speech on the Senate floor about 10:05. The President is expected to use his speech to the nation from the oval office not only to address the immediate concern of the oil spill, but also to argue in favor of legislation that would help move the country toward an economy less dependent on foreign oil. McConnell said that is the wrong approach. “Americans are saying two things at the moment: stop this spill and clean it up,” he said. “…And until this leak is plugged, they’re not in any mood to hand over even more power in the form of a new national energy tax to a government that, so far, hasn’t lived up to their expectations in its response to this crisis.” While he said the administration is trying to use the speech to make government bigger and regulate carbon emissions, McConnell also complained that maybe the government regulatory structure in advance of the spill wasn’t big enough. “Clearly, the administration’s National Contingency Plan was not up to the task.  Why not?  Did it rely too much on the oil companies to perform the cleanup?” asked McConnell. He also asked why the administration has been “slow to accept offers of assistance from countries who have offered skimming vessels and other technologies to help clean up the spill? ”

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