GOP Gulf coast lawmakers set to meet with leaders on Barton's future

GOP Gulf Coast lawmakers are set to meet with their leadership at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday evening to discuss the Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) situation, according to Republican sources.

It will be the first time lawmakers representing districts hit hard by the BP oil spill will meet since the Energy and Commerce ranking member apologized to BP for the "shakedown" at the White House last week.

The special confab will happen before lawmakers have a chance to discuss the matter with their other GOP colleagues on the floor during votes at 6 p.m.

At least two lawmakers, Reps. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) called for Barton to step aside as ranking member.

Miller and Bonner rejected Barton's retraction of the "shakedown" comment.

Barton, the Energy and Commerce ranking member, called both lawmakers over the weekend to apologize personally. He also phoned other members on the committee and those who represent the Gulf Coast, as heat over the comments grew Friday and throughout the weekend.

It was unclear if Barton would participate in Tuesday evening's meeting. Since uttering the ill-fated apology Thursday to the British head of BP, Democrats have capitalized on Barton's statement.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has launched a handful of ads spotlighting Barton's comment as representing the GOP position on Wednesday's White House meeting with BP executives, during which BP agreed to set up a $20 billion escrow fund for people hurt by the devastating oil spill.

GOP leaders quickly disavowed Barton's remarks last Thursday and demanded he apologize immediately or lose his ranking member position.

Update, 7:13 p.m.: Gulf Coast GOP lawmakers say they did not discuss Barton at the 5:45pm meeting.

According to an aide to GOP Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the group talked about possible bills that may come to the floor in response to the oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

Earlier in the day, several sources said that Barton would be the focus but members exiting the meeting explained that they discussed potential oil spill measures instead.