(CNN) - Rep. Joe Barton will not make the same mistake twice.
Last month, the Texas Republican came under intense criticism from members of his own party and was forced to issue an apology after calling BP's agreement to set up a $20 billion fund for victims of the Gulf oil spill "a shakedown" by the Obama administration. Despite the apology, Democrats used the comments to spark fundraising and gain political ground.
Barton, who also called the $20 billion a "slush fund," came face-to-face Tuesday with Kenneth Feinberg, the independent special master of the fund, and prefaced his first question with an emphatic message.
"I do support that there be a compensation fund," Barton said. "I do support that BP pays most if not all of the money that goes into that fund. And I do support that it be, as I said, fairly quickly and transparently paid out to the people that have the claims."
In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, attorney Kenneth Feinberg said he expected to have his independent compensation program running by the first week of August. Feinberg told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that his operation will be superimposed on top of the claims process already put in place by BP, which has more than 1,000 people working out of 35 offices in the Gulf Coast region.
“We’ll keep the people who are good. We’ll add people. We’ll accelerate claims. We’ll process the claims as quickly as we can,” Feinberg said. “We’re already prepared to give eligible claimants not one month emergency payments but six months with no obligation, no release required. Just to try and help people in the Gulf.”
Feinberg described the six-month payouts as providing “some degree of additional financial certainty” for the many individuals and businesses facing the economic havoc caused by the disaster. But Feinberg added that claimants can ask for less than six months in compensation if they so choose.
The well-known attorney, who administered the multi-billion-dollar 9/11 victims’ compensation fund and who set salaries for the top executives at banks recently bailed out by the federal government, also provided an overview of how he sees the claims process.