Sen. Bill Nelson blasts Congress for failures after oil spill, vows to keep working on restoration money
Ask U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to rate how he and his colleagues in Congress have responded to the Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred two years ago, and he does not mince words.
Noting that the members of the presidential oil spill commission recently handed Congress a D grade for its failure to pass any new safety regulations, the Florida Democrat said, "It shouldn't have been a D. It should've been an F."
Nevertheless, there is one vote Nelson is immensely proud of —- so proud he mentioned it every time he opened his mouth at a news conference organized by environmental activists on St. Petersburg's bayfront Friday. The news conference featured Nelson, Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and Mayor Bill Foster voicing their continued opposition to drilling near Florida's beaches.
Last month, a bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate approved a measure to take 80 percent of any fines collected from BP and other companies involved in the spill — between $5 billion and $20 billion — and send it to the six gulf coast states to spend on recovering from the spill.
The measure passed 76 to 22, Nelson pointed out, showing Republicans and Democrats can put aside their differences to help the region hurt by the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Twenty-three Republican senators voted for the measure despite strong opposition from influential anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, he said.