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Obama Discusses Oil Spill with Top US Lawmakers

U.S. President Barack Obama has met with top U.S. lawmakers to discuss the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and says there is broad bipartisan support for laws to be changed to better prevent and respond to such disasters.

Mr. Obama told reporters Thursday that the current laws are not adequate for such a disaster, since they were enacted before the oil industry developed ultra-deep water drilling.  He says he briefed the lawmakers about the federal response to the disaster.

The president is also meeting Thursday at the White House with the families of the 11 people killed in the explosion of the oil rig seven weeks ago.

Separately, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is leading the federal response to the spill, says efforts to contain the oil leaking from the broken well continue, with almost 16,000 barrels of oil captured in the last 24 hours.  

The government also says oil giant BP has agreed to speed up claims for businesses and individuals whose livelihoods have been affected by the massive spill.  The lead government claims official says there had been complaints from businesses and individuals about the length of time it was taking to get payments from BP.

The oil company agreed to make payments to businesses a month in advance so they can pay their expenses, rather than making them wait until the end of the month.

President Obama is slated to return to the Gulf early next week, for his fourth trip to the region since the crisis began in late April.  He has previously visited Louisiana and, next week, will see how the oil is affecting the coastlines of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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