Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter are working together on the legislation, and she will schedule a committee vote soon.
At a committee hearing, Vitter said he and Landrieu want to direct 80 percent of the fines, expected to run into the billions, to Louisiana and other gulf states and get the administration to lift its hold on offshore drilling permits.
Most senators praised the co-chairmen of the White House Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Bob Graham and William Reilly, for their recommendations, in contrast to the hostile treatment they got from House Republicans earlier.
Graham, a former Florida governor and senator who last week officially closed down the commission, said Congress should greatly increase oil companies' liability limits for deepwater drilling.