House Leaders: Oil Keeps Flowing, Money Drying Up in U.S. Economy

More amicable than usual, House leaders agree as oil flows, money drying up.

June 06, 2010, 11:48 AM

June 13, 2010— -- In an EXCLUSIVE "This Week" debate, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., discussed the budget, the oil spill in the Gulf, Israel and looked toward the elections in November. There were some sparring between the two leaders, but also something much stranger: agreement.

"BP has not been accurate in its representations. It has been misleading ... [and] what has happened is outrageous, and the American public are, correctly, very, very angry," Hoyer said.

"Well, Steny, guess what? I agree wholeheartedly with you," Boehner said. "The American people want this oil leak stopped now.

"They want to know what happened. They want the Gulf cleaned up. And they want it all done now," the House Minority leader said. "I just think that BP ought to be held responsible for all of the costs that are involved in this."

Boehner explained he wanted to change to current law so that BP would be responsible not just for the cost of cleanup but also for more economic damages than current law allows.

"I think lifting the liability cap on BP and for this spill is appropriate," Boehner said.

"This Week" host Jake Tapper asked, "So lift it entirely for BP?"

"Absolutely," Boehner said. "They should be held responsible for every dime of this cost."

Tapper asked the leaders about a letter released by President Obama Saturday which called for swift passage of a $50 billion aid package for states and local governments. Tapper asked if Hoyer would be able to pass the bill given the current attitude toward spending on Capitol Hill.

"It's accurate that there's spending fatigue, not only on Capitol Hill, but around the country," Hoyer said. "People are concerned about the debt level, and we are, as well.

"What the president is saying is, we need to expend additional dollars to make sure that we don't have significant layoffs in the next few months, which will again depress the economy," Hoyer said.

The House Majority leaders indicated the president hoped to find the money from the $787 billion stimulus act passed early last year.

As Debt Level Rises, Americans More Concerned About Livelihood

"Listen, I'm concerned about the plight of teachers, firemen, policemen who face the real possibility that they may be laid off," House Minority Leader Boehner said.

"The fact is that the spending spree in Washington is continuing to run unabated," he said. "The American people are screaming at the top of their lungs, 'stop!' And -- and to move this without finding other offsets in spending, I think, is irresponsible."

Hoyer said he hoped the cost of the bill could be offset with spending cuts.

Looking ahead to November, the two House leaders predicted the outcome of the 2010 midterm elections for the House.

"History says we're going to lose a few seats, but we're going to retain the House," Hoyer said with a smile. "We're going to keep the House."

Boehner said, "Our goal is to take the majority in the House ..."

Host Jake Tapper pressed, "Not your goal -- what's going to happen? Prediction, prediction!"

"We've got a hundred seats in play," Boehner replied. "We've got a real shot of winning the majority so that we can put a check on this administration and all the spending that's out of control here in Washington, D.C."

Turning to foreign affairs, Boehner sharply criticized the Obama administration's Israel policy.

After discussing the deadly Israeli commando raid on a ship of activists on May 31 and declaring that the "Israelis have a clear right to defend themselves," Boehner said, "We've coddled our enemies and pushed our friends aside in the process. We're raising a lot of doubts around the world, including the people of Israel who are having serious doubts about our commitment to them, our closest ally in the Middle East."

Hoyer said, "This is not a partisan difference. I strongly support Israel's actions. ... It is appropriate to have a blockade to make sure they don't get the weapons or other materials [for] ... terrorist acts.

"I think they did exactly the right thing in stopping that [ship]," Hoyer said.

Both voiced strong support for the Israeli action, and agreed that the activists on board the Mavi Marmara, the ship where deaths occurred, had intended to cause trouble.

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