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Joe Barton Keeps GOP Leadership Role Despite BP Apology

Joe Barton
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas listens to opening statements from members of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2010, prior to BP CEO Tony Hayward testifying before an Energy and Environment subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on the role of BP in the Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill. AP

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Beleaguered Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) will remain the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican leaders said today, despite his apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward.

Barton came under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike for apologizing to Hayward during a congressional hearing.

At the White House's urging, BP agreed to contribute $20 billion to an escrow fund to pay for damages from the oil spill. In the hearing, Barton called the deal a White House "shakedown" and said the company's CEO deserved an apology.

The Democratic Party seized on Barton's statements and called for him to step down from his leadership role on the committee. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted, "Who would the GOP put in charge of overseeing the energy industry & Big Oil if they won control of Congress? Yup, u guessed it - JOE BARTON."

House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) said today that Barton apologized to his Republican colleagues at a meeting this morning, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer Jill Jackson reports. Boehner said it's time to move on.

"We should not allow this distraction to get in the way of the real problem," he said. "The administration has no plan that will stop the leak in the Gulf and help clean up this mess. And frankly, they want to use this distraction in order to push their national energy plan, their cap and trade bill."

While many Republicans voiced their disapproval of Barton's remarks, at least one of Barton's colleagues is still embracing him, the Hill reports. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) is holding a fundraiser next week with Barton as a special guest.

Update: After GOP leadership announced that Barton would keep his position, the congressman's Twitter account went up with the message "Joe Barton Was Right," the Washington Post reports. The Twitter message, which has since been removed, linked to an American Spectator article defending Barton's apology to BP. Barton's spokesperson reportedly clarified that he -- not Barton -- posted the message to Twitter, and that the congressman was not aware of the tweet. Special Report: Disaster in the Gulf

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