WASHINGTON - British Petroleum executives have agreed to President Obama's demands and will set up a $20 billion relief fund for Gulf Coast damage claims from the oil spill.
Under heavy pressure from frustrated Americans, BP executives climbed the steps to the White House, Wednesday, for a closed door meeting with Obama.
The meeting followed the president's prime time speech, Tuesday, in which he told Americans BP will pay for their mistakes.
"[This] $20 billion dollars will provide substantial assurance that the claims people and businesses have will be honored," Obama said after Wednesday's meeting. "It's also important to emphasize this is not a cap. The people of the Gulf have my commitment that BP will meet it's obligations to them."
Although it's been nearly two months since the company's oil rig exploded, sending a seemingly endless stream of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, this was the first meeting between BP's leaders and the president.
Federal law caps the company's damages at $75 million, but BP says it will put billions in escrow for the Americans affected most by the spill.
"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies who don't care, but that's not the case at BP," BP chairman Carl Henric Svanberg said. "We are about the small people."
Obama has continued to keep up his offensive on the oil spill. Yet, despite all of his efforts, the disaster has remained a major political problem for the president.
Click play for Jennifer Wishon's latest report followed by reaction from CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody.
Jeff Poor with Business and Media Institute spoke with CBN News about the political fallout from the Gulf oil spill. Click here to watch.
Also, watch more analysis here with Charles Dunn, dean of the Regent University School of Government.
Wednesday's meeting also cames after members of Congress suggested heads roll over the spill during a grilling of top oil executives on Capitol Hill.
"During the samurai days, we'd just give you the knife and ask you to commit hari-kari," Rep. Joseph Cao, D-La.,who is Vietnamese-American told one BP executive.
To make matters worse, scientists estimated 1.5 to 2.5 million gallons of oil are leaking into the Gulf each day. That's 12 times more than originally estimated.
Gulf Seeks More than Talk from Obama
Meanwhile, Obama has called the spill an "epidemic," and it's one that has become toxic to his administration.
According to a new poll, 50 percent of Louisiana residents said they believe President George W. Bush handled Hurricane Katrina better than Obama is handling the oil spill. Only 35 percent thought Obama is doing better than the former president.
A new Associated Press poll showed 52 percent of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the spill.
It's a problem the president sought to address during his first national speech from the Oval Office.
"Make no mistake, we will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long as it takes," Obama vowed.
But one Gulf resident said he wanted more than just talk from the commander-in-chief.
"Words are only words. Action means everything," said 48-year-old Keath Ladner, who owns Gulf Shores Sea Products in Lakeshore, Miss. "Right now, I believe we need a little bit more government oversight to make sure things are handled properly."
Obama Pushes Climate, Energy Bills
The president announced Tuesday his appointment of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus as the Gulf restoration czar to focus on long term recovery of the region.
He also used his national stage to push for passage of an energy and climate bill.
"There are costs associated with this transition," Obama said. "And there are some who believe that we can't afford those costs right now. I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater."
"Both parties should be working together to craft responsible solutions in response to this disaster," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. "There's nothing responsible or reasonable about a job killing national energy tax that will raise energy costs and destroy more American jobs."
One thing the oil spill has not done is create a spike of opposition to offshore drilling in Louisiana. Polls have shown 77 percent of the state's voters still support it, while only 12 percent are against it.