Top Republicans threaten to strip Barton of committee spot

The two top-ranking House GOP leaders threatened to strip Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) of his perch as ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, according to a leadership aide.

House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor told Barton at an early afternoon meeting to "apologize, immediately. Or you will lose your position, immediately," the GOP leadership aide explained to The Hill.

Further, Barton's office ran his official "apology" by Boehner's office for approval.

It remains to be seen if the statement will appease irate members of the GOP conference such as Rep. Jo Bonner (Ala.), who demanded that Barton "retract" his apology to BP.

Bonner, described by a colleague as one of the most even-tempered members of Congress, participated in a heated discussion on the floor with Boehner, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) on Thursday. All were "furious," Miller said, with Barton for making "reprehensible" comments about a White House shakedown.

Bonner, a member of Boehner's inner circle and ranking member of the ethics committee, commands a lot of respect from the minority leader.