Democratic Leader Hoyer Doesn’t Know Whether Obama Administration was Prepared for Oil Spill

By Matt Cover | May 19, 2010 | 5:29 PM EDT

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, gestures during a health care overhaul news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

( – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he did not know whether the Obama administration was prepared to combat the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hoyer was asked on Tuesday whether he thought the administration was ready to handle so large a disaster. The House majority leader said he did not know, adding that someone could draw the inference that the administration was not prepared.
“I don’t know the answer to that question, which is why we’re going to try to find out,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. “One could speculate, or one could draw the inference that we weren’t [prepared], in terms of the federal government.”
Hoyer also said it was “accurate” that the federal government had not been properly checking up on British Petroleum (BP) and its oil rigs. Hoyer claimed that the government’s failures were the reason Minerals Management Service (MMS) regulator Chris Oynes was resigning.
Oynes gave a Safety Award for Excellence to Transocean, the company whose oil rig caught fire and caused the spill.
“I think that is accurate,” about the government’s failures, said Hoyer. “I think you're right. I think you're right. That is why the head of the MMS is retiring. I mean, there is accountability. And I think that there was a sense that they weren't on top of this. And the head of the agency is, I think, [resigning] forthwith anyway.”
Hoyer, however, was quick to put some of the blame on BP, saying that it, and not the government that regulates the company, was responsible for the spill.
“But really, the people that need to be prepared is BP,” said Hoyer. “BP is the one that is drilling. BP is the one that is responsible. BP should have been the one that was prepared. And they clearly believed that a disaster of this magnitude was not possible. They were wrong.”