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Boehner, Cantor, and Pence: Barton was 'wrong'

The top three members of the Republican leadership were forced to respond after Barton apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward in a hearing for the government's pressure on the company to establish a $20 billion account in escrow to pay out damages related to the oil spill.

“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 dollar shakedown,” Barton said.

He later backed off those remarks, apologizing before the committee and in a statement.

Democrats pounced throughout the day on Barton's statement, seeking to tie his remarks to the GOP as a whole. Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Trump: Why didn't Obama 'do something about Russian meddling?' 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states MORE called the sentiment "incredibly insensitive," while White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs questioned Barton's fitness to serve in the top GOP position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The leadership trio sought in their statement to redirect the debate away from their own party and back toward President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE's handling of the crisis, where they'd made some headway in recent weeks.

"The families and businesspeople in the Gulf region want leadership, accountability and action from BP and the administration," they said. "It is unacceptable that, 59  days after this crisis began, no solution is forthcoming. Simply put, the American people want all of our resources, time and focus to be directed toward stopping the spill and cleaning up the mess."