Acadiana’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives are reflecting party affiliation in their reaction to fellow Congressman Joe Barton’s much-talked-about apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward. While fellow Republican Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette has remained quiet about the Texan’s comments, within hours of the flap U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, joined a howling chorus of fellow Democrats in condemning Barton’s remarks:
Joe Barton’s apology to BP is offensive to the thousands of Louisianians whose entire future has been jeopardized by the oil disaster. From fishermen to shrimpers to oil and gas workers, BP’s irresponsibility has put the livelihoods of thousands at risk. I make no apologies for holding BP 100 percent accountable for their negligence. If Joe Barton wants to apologize to someone, I suggest he apologize to the people of Louisiana for his insensitive comments.

Barton, the ranking Republican member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on Thursday told Hayward he was “ashamed” of the “$20 billion shakedown” of the oil company, referring to BP’s agreement with the Obama administration to create a $20 billion escrow fund from which a third-party administrator will draw compensation payments for victims of the Gulf oil disaster. The language in Barton’s rhetoric was evidently lifted from talking points in a press release issued hours earlier by the Republican Study Committee, an influential conservative caucus to which the majority of GOP Congress members belong. That RSC release referred to the escrow agreement as “Chicago-style shakedown politics.”

Barton later retracted the apology after House Minority Leader John Boehner and other GOP leadership threatened to strip him of his Energy Committee leadership post.


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