Posted By Matt Dempsey

Baucus Latest Dem To Expresses Concerns with Unlimited Liability


See Also: Democrats on the Record Expressing Concern with Menendez Liability Bill


Senator Baucus: I know we had a hearing on this subject, Madame Chairman.  It's starting to bother me that in the last year, roughly, we don't legislate very much.  I'm speaking generally, and I'm speaking only from my own personal experience with the Finance Committee.  We don't have any mark-ups any more.  We don't burrow down and ask tough questions of witnesses, trying to establish proper policy, near as much as we used to.  Rather, a lot of amendments and bills are more in the nature of message amendments and bills.  And I find it disconcerting.  I know there was a hearing on this subject, regrettably I wasn't here for that hearing.  But I do have some concern about a total removal, a total unlimited liability.  I mean, there was a reason for Price-Anderson.  I don't know if those policy reasons are still applicable today or not, but there was a reason, and it was passed.   I'm going to vote against this amendment, but I just hope that in the future we know what the heck it is we're doing.  This amendment may have the effect of driving out some smaller companies, I don't know.  It may have the effect of allowing foreign outfits come in, I don't know.  But I do know that the current limit is too low, and the 10 billion dollar limit made sense to me.  Unlimited liability may be the best policy.  I also understand, on the other hand, that the top insurance companies, not brokers, but insurance companies say that oil companies price all this in anyways when they purchase policies.  Now, of course, if it's unlimited, the policy might be more expensive.  I'm going to vote no, but I just urge us to think more deeply about what it is we're doing on the margin, and little less offering message amendments and bills.  I'm not casting disparagements on anybody here, it's just my impression that I think we're moving too much in the message direction in this Congress and not enough in the legislative side of it.  Now, I'm not going to get into why that's happened, I have strong reasons as to why that's happened, but I'm going to avoid that for the moment and just caution us to think more substantively, try to burrow down and find out, so we're doing a good job of doing what we're doing.