US Senate Panel Votes To Eliminate Spill-Liability Cap

A U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday voted to remove the cap on damage claims that BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) and other companies would have to pay for disasters like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the measure by a voice vote. The current limit on claims for damage that goes beyond the costs of cleanup is $75 million. That is widely regarded on Capitol Hill as too low. The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will on Thursday take up a related measure to remove the liability cap for offshore operations. It isn't clear when the bills will come up for a vote in the full Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives, or be combined into a single package and sent to U.S. President Barack Obama to sign into law. The Democratic-controlled Congress and the Obama administration have been toughening their position on liability limits as oil continues gushing out of a broken BP well a mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico. The