Boehner distances himself from Barton's 'shakedown' comment

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) broke with a top Republican on Thursday who suggested BP had suffered a "shakedown" by being forced to set up a $20 billion fund to pay out damages. 

Asked at his weekly press conference if he disagreed with Barton’s characterization of the deal struck Wednesday at the White House, Boehner quickly responded, “I do.”

“BP agreed to fund the cost of this cleanup from the beginning and I’m glad they’re being held accountable,” Boehner told reporters.

Boehner was distancing himself from remarks by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) lamenting the BP fund.

Barton, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said during opening statements at a Thursday hearing where BP CEO Tony Hayward was a witness that President Barack Obama and his administration had created a "slush fund" in the $20 billion escrow account.

"It is a tragedy of 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,” Barton said.

Before the press conference, Boehner had already signaled his disagreement with Barton's comments in a television interview.

“They’ve agreed to put this $20 billion dollars in escrow," Boehner said during an appearance on Fox News. "I don’t know what context Mr. Barton was making that remark, but, I’m glad BP has accepted responsibility for their actions.”

This story was posted at 10:57 and updated at 1 p.m.

—Molly K. Hooper contributed to this story.

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