The White House blasted Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) on Thursday for apologizing to BP at a House hearing.
Likely sensing an opportunity to put Republicans on the defensive, press secretary Robert Gibbs called on both parties to "repudiate" Barton's comments.
"Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy’, but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now," Gibbs said in a statement. "Members from both parties should repudiate his comments."
The Texas Republican apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward this morning for what he called "shameful" pressure from the White House to establish a $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 dollar shakedown,” Barton said.
Gibbs said it was Barton's comments that should be considered shameful.
“What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction," he said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed Gibbs's sentiment.
The speaker's office highlighted Barton’s comment in a press release blasted out shortly after his comments. The release provides an excerpt of Barton’s statement and then claims “House Republicans continue to side with Big Oil over the needs of the American people.”
Ben Geman contributed to this report.