Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, last week, as we know, BP announced that it had capped the oil well, and that for the first time in more than 80 days oil had stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. While last week's announcement was cause for relief among many, I have since urged cautious optimism. Much work remains to be done to address the worst environmental disaster that this country has seen in recent memory.
BP is still responsible for ensuring that every last drop of oil is removed from the gulf. BP still has a financial responsibility to those residents in the gulf coast, particularly in my congressional district of the Florida Keys, who remain financially devastated from the public perception, however false it may be, of tar ball-covered beaches and oil-soaked fish.
Despite promises of improvement, however, the BP claims process has not improved. I support legislation introduced by my friend, Congressman Charlie Melancon, to tax-exempt BP claims checks. It is the least we can do for those small business owners who continue to suffer to this day, mom and pop fishing charters. They must provide years' worth of financial data in order to prove the possibility of economic injury as a result of the spill.