20100518 oil mississippi river 35
A marine biologist shows oil collected from a jetti at the mouth of the Mississippi River near Venice, La. - 

Until now, the congressional spotlight has been on the role of BP and private companies in the disaster. But today that changes.

What will they discuss at the hearings?

These hearings are really going to focus on the government role in all this. So we can expect Senators to ask questions about regulations: what people are calling lax oversight of offshore rigs. We'll also hear about the "cozy" relationship between regulators and the industry.

Barbra Shook, Houston bureau chief for the Energy Intelligence Group, says the committees will want answers to all kinds of questions.

"Why the regulations that exist weren't enforced more strictly and whether a need exists for more stringent regulations," she says.

Meanwhile, President Obama says he's putting together an independent commission to investigate the disaster. It will be similar to commissions that investigated other disasters, like the space shuttle Challenger and Three Mile Island. As far as who's on it, the idea would be to get people who are completely unconnected to the various agencies and so on that are involved in the mess. The president could announce the names sometime this week. How's the clean-up going? BP is saying it's now collecting about 40 percent of the oil spilling out of the broken rig. Of course, that means 60 percent is still ending up in the water. This is how Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu put it in a hearing yesterday: "The problem is this well is putting more oil in the water every one-and-a-half days than has been put in this water in the past decade. That is startling," she said. And scientists are now pretty sure the spill will get as far as Florida, if not further.