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Rep. Barton Retracts Apology To BP

By Kyle Trygstad

Facing mounting pressure from his own party, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) retracted his apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward, which he offered to the oil executive this morning in his opening statement as ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

"I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday," Barton said this morning. "It is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown - in this case a $20 billion shakedown."

Hayward testified today and answered the panel's questions late into the afternoon. As he testified, the White House and Democrats from both chambers of Congress blasted the congressman for apologizing to the oil company.

Republicans joined as well, with Florida Rep. Jeff Miller the first to call on Barton to step down as ranking member of the committee. Miller represents the western-most district in Florida's panhandle. House GOP leaders John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence issued a joint statement calling Barton's initial comments about a White House shakedown "wrong," adding that BP acknowledged repsonsibility and "offered an initial pledge of $20 billion."

Here is Barton's full statement of regret, apologizing for his earlier statement:

"I apologize for using the term 'shakedown' with regard to yesterday's actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP. As I told my colleagues yesterday and said again this morning, BP should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico. BP should fully compensate those families and businesses that have been hurt by this accident. BP and the federal government need to stop the leak, clean up the damage, and take whatever steps necessary to prevent a similar accident in the future.

"I regret the impact that my statement this morning implied that BP should not pay for the consequences of their decisions and actions in this incident."