Updated: June 13, 7:08 p.m.
President Barack Obama will address the nation Tuesday night after his two-day trip to the Gulf region to assess the oil spill cleanup efforts, White House adviser David Axelrod said Sunday.
“He wants to lay out the steps that we’re going to take from here to get through this crisis,” Axelrod said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“We’re at a kind of inflection point in this saga, because we now know … what we can do and what we can’t do in terms of collecting oil, and what lies ahead in the next few months.”
Obama will spend Monday and Tuesday touring Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to assess the damage from the oil that has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20, at a rate that the government estimates at 20,000 to 40,000 barrels a day. This week’s trip is Obama’s fourth visit to the region since the leak began after an explosion on a BP oil rig.
The president is scheduled to meet with BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and other company officials Wednesday for updates on their efforts to remedy the situation. Adm. Thad Allen, the administration’s point man on the spill, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he expects CEO Tony Hayward will also be in attendance. Hayward is set to testify Thursday before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
One topic at Wednesday’s meeting will be an escrow account that the Obama administration has proposed to pay for claims related to the spill’s damage. The account would be funded by BP and administered by a third party.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.) and a group of Senate Democrats plan to send BP executives a letter Monday asking the company to set aside $20 billion to pay costs associated with the spill, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn emphasized the need to get relief to affected Gulf Coast communities and expressed support for an escrow account as an option to hold BP accountable.
“I think the focus must be on developing and putting resources into these communities and onto these families and onto these working men and women, in whatever way we can do that, by an independent third-party agency or by the federal government working in tandem with BP, whatever way is what we ought to do,” the South Carolina Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) cited the “failure of federal government” as the reason for the ongoing leak.
“The materials that should have been in place for a spill this size were not, and the reaction, I think, on the part of the administration has been slow,” Boehner said on ABC’s “This Week.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who also appeared on the show, pointed the finger back at BP as the responsible party. He criticized the oil company for not being “accurate in its representations” of the scope of the spill.