Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Congressman Garamendi Joins House Colleagues in Bill to Give Oil Spill Commission Subpoena Power

June 23, 2010
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi today joined his House colleagues in support of H.R. 5481 by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara, CA), a bill that would grant subpoena power to the Commission investigating the BP oil spill.

"We need to know what happened, why it happened, and who is responsible for the tragedy along the Gulf Coast," Congressman Garamendi said. "The bipartisan Commission must have all the tools it requires to ensure that BP and the other responsible parties are required to disclose all pertinent information to get to the facts of what went wrong."

The Commission, which was established by Executive Order and based on legislation introduced in the House in early May, will investigate the causes of BP’s devastating oil spill in the Gulf and report back to the President with recommendations for how to prevent and mitigate the impact of any future spills that result from offshore drilling. 

The President has committed the full cooperation of the federal government to the Commission and its mandate.  But he does not have the authority to give the Commission subpoena power through an Executive Order so Congressional Action is necessary to give the Commission this essential investigatory tool.  The bill passed by a vote of 420-1, with two members voting "present". 

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S. 3462), but attempts to bring the bill to the floor under unanimous consent have been blocked by Senate Republicans.

"What do Senate Republicans have to hide? Who are they protecting?" Garamendi asked. "As the oil leak continues unabated in the Gulf, the least we can hope for is swift action in the Senate to give the Commission investigative teeth."

Congressman Garamendi is the author of the West Coast Ocean Protection Act of 2010, a bill with 37 cosponsors that would ban all new oil and natural gas leases in federal waters off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. Identical companion legislation in the Senate is supported by all six West Coast senators.