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If Mr. Barton thinks that the president of the United States, in light of the tragedy thats going on there, should have simply sat back and said well, do whichever you are going to do, thats not what the American people expected and thats not what the American people want their president to do, he said. I think the president did exactly the right thing.
Hoyer added that Bartons apology to BP along with other Republican criticism of the presidents push for an escrow fund from Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.), who called it a Chicago-style shakedown was emblematic of the Republican Partys failure to regulate the oil and financial industries when it was in charge.
Thats reflective of the reason we are where we are, Hoyer said. They believed if you simply leave the private sector unregulated, no oversight, let them do whatever they want to do, that everything will be fine. That wasnt true in the financial community and it clearly wasnt true here.
But Hoyer declined to call for Barton to be removed from his ranking position. If Members of Congress were removed from their positions every time they said something dumb, probably all of us would be removed, he joked.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), issued a statement that attempted to broaden Bartons comments to all Republicans. Republicans should get their priorities straight: are they going to keep protecting and apologizing for Big Oil or will they finally stand up for families and businesses whose lives have been upended by the BP oil spill, Manley said, adding that Bartons comments demonstrated an appalling amount of chutzpah.
Jennifer Bendery and Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.