Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologized on Thursday for what he said was a misconstrued apology he made this morning for the way the United States has treated BP.
Barton said he believed BP should be held accountable for the effects of an oil spill from a pipeline leased by the company, after he accused the Obama administration of a "shakedown" by forcing BP to set up a $20 billion fund to pay out damages to victims of the spill.
"I want the record to be absolutely clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible and should in every way do everything possible to make good on the consequences that have resulted from this action," Barton said following his round of questioning of BP CEO Tony Hayward Thursday afternoon.
"If anything I said this morning has been misconstrued in opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstruction," he added.
Barton also apologized in a subsequent written 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.”
Barton found himself under intense pressure on Thursday after he apologized to Hayward for the way his company had been treated.
The Texas Republican, who serves in the top GOP spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has faced calls from at least one colleague to step down from that position. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) also quickly distanced himself from Barton's initial remarks.
Updated 4:03 p.m.