The White House on Thursday fired back at Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the administration pressing the oil company to create a $20 billion compensation fund for victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill.
Barton, ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee, told Hayward during a Thursday hearing that he was “ashamed” that the White House summoned BP executives into a Wednesday meeting to pressure them to create an escrow fund to pay out billions in compensation to Gulf Coast residents hurt by the oil disaster.
“I apologize,” Barton told Hayward. “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it’s a tragedy.” He called Hayward the victim of “a $20 billion shakedown.”
It didn’t take long for White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to shoot back, calling Barton’s comments “shameful” and calling on lawmakers in both parties to repudiate his remarks.
“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. 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.