Washington (CNN) – Rep. Bart Stupak, a leading Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said BP CEO Tony Hayward looked "absurd and ridiculous" giving non-responsive testimony at Thursday's Gulf oil spill hearing.
"It was frustrating, not just to me but to the American people," Stupak said in an interview on CNN's "John King, USA." The Michigan congressman pointed out that the committee had sent Hayward a letter outlining the lines of questioning they intended to pursue and yet he still did not answer their questions.
"There comes a point in time when you almost become absurd and ridiculous. Unfortunately, I think that's how Tony Hayward looked to the American people," Stupak said.
Separately, Stupak defended the White House for including Attorney General Eric Holder in a Roosevelt Room meeting with BP executives on Wednesday. Holder's Justice Department has an active investigation into the oil giant following the disaster.
"I think it was worthwhile having the attorney general [in the meeting]. He helped put some parameters there," Stupak said.
Washington (CNN) – Under fire for appearing to shield BP from criticism Thursday morning, Rep. Joe Barton was told by House GOP leaders later in the day to apologize "immediately" or lose his position as the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, several Republican sources tell CNN.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, delivered the pointed demand to Barton, a Texas congressman.
"He was told apologize immediately or you will lose your position immediately," said a Republican leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The aide added, "Now that he's apologized, we'll see what happens going forward."
After making his controversial comments to BP CEO Tony Hayward, Barton apologized later in the hearing and then followed up with a stronger written statement.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Lawmakers ripped into BP chief Tony Hayward on Thursday, accusing him of being ill-prepared for congressional testimony and not cooperating with an investigation into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
In Hayward's first congressional appearance since the April 20 disaster, lawmakers wanted to know if BP had cut corners in an effort to save money in the run up to the explosion.
Questions during the 7-1/2 hour hearing, which included two recesses, focused on the well's design and the measures taken while BP was attempting to seal it before it exploded.
"Did BP make a fundamental misjudgment" in using one long piece of well casing instead of many shorter pieces, as other oil companies said they would have done, asked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
"I wasn't involved in that decision," replied Hayward, saying that the single piece was better for the well's long-term stability.
Waxman produced transcripts from BP's engineers saying that the single casing was "unlikely to be successful." Waxman said BP went ahead with it anyway to save $7 to $10 million.
Hayward said he was "not prepared to draw conclusions about this accident until the investigation is complete."
"This is an investigation," said Waxman. "Are you cooperating with other investigations? Because they're going to have a hard time reaching a conclusion if you stonewall them, which it appears you are doing today."
TOPICS: Obama speech, Obama personal characteristics
Washington (CNN) - Is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Barack Obama's Katrina?
The first poll conducted after the president's Tuesday night prime-time address to the nation on the spill offers evidence that the public's view of Obama's leadership is following the same pattern that George W. Bush experienced after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005.
In the wake of Katrina, the number of Americans who thought Bush was a strong and decisive leader dropped by more than 10 points. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday, the number who currently think Obama is a strong and decisive leader has dropped by seven points, from 60 percent in January to 53 percent now.
The poll also indicates that fewer Americans think that Obama is tough enough to handle a crisis or that he can manage the government effectively. Fifty-three percent say the president is tough enough to handle a crisis, down 11 points from last year. And 49 percent say Obama can manage the government effectively, a drop of nine points from last year.
But on other dimensions, opinion of Obama holds up well - no change in the number who say he inspires confidence, that he is sincere, and that he cares about people.
TOPICS: Oil spill, Obama reaction, Obama approval rating, opinion of BP
"Members are angry. Members are frustrated," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, told CNN's Dana Bash. "They're going to take his hide off, as they should."
Stupak, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, outlined evidence his committee has put together from thousands of pages of internal BP documents.
In Thursday's hearing, Stupak intends to focus on what the lawmaker sees as a pattern of behavior on BP's part that risked safety in order to contain costs and make up for the drilling project's being behind schedule.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday asked Congress for $15 million in emergency funding for the new national commission investigating the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The Administration asked Congress to consider an emergency budget amendment of $15 million for the Department of Energy to fund the activities of that commission," an administration official told CNN on condition of not being identified.
"This amendment would fund necessary expenses, including personnel costs, authorized travel, research and investigation costs, reimbursement to federal agencies for operational and logistical support, and other costs in carrying out the mandate of the commission," the official said.
The seven-member commission will report back by the end of the year on the causes of the disaster, as well as "options for safety and environmental precautions necessary to prevent a similar disaster from happening again," Obama wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting the funds.
(CNN) - BP will continue to pay the costs for the oil spill cleanup and will work out with its drilling partners later who is liable for the costs, an executive for the oil giant told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday.
"BP is paying all the bills right now," Darryl Willis, the vice president of resources for BP America, told the senators. "We are focused on making sure that the costs associated with this cleanup and spill in the Gulf of Mexico are paid and that the people who have been hurt along the Gulf Coast are compensated for their losses, and any federal costs that are associated with the cleanup are paid back to the American people."
The government bills the companies responsible for the disaster on one invoice, said Craig Bennett, director of the National Pollution Fund. It doesn't matter if one or all companies pay the bill.
(CNN) - The Gulf oil disaster "never should have happened," and BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward says he is "deeply sorry" that it did.
Hayward is scheduled to appear Thursday at a House subcommittee hearing on the oil rig explosion and fire that killed 11 workers and set off the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. In written testimony obtained by CNN, Hayward repeatedly says he is fully aware of the harm caused to the Gulf Coast region and commits BP to "do what we can to make certain that an incident like this does not happen again."
"Let there be no mistake - I understand how serious this situation is," Hayward's testimony says "This is a tragedy: people lost their lives; others were injured; and the Gulf Coast environment and communities are suffering. This is unacceptable, I understand that, and let me be very clear: I fully grasp the terrible reality of the situation."
Hayward says he was personally devastated by the deaths of the 11 workers and called attending their memorial service "a shattering moment."
"I want to offer my sincere condolences to their friends and families - I can only imagine their sorrow," Hayward says in the written testimony. "My sadness has only grown as the disaster continues."
Saying he wants to speak directly to the people of the Gulf region, Hayward adds: "I know that this incident has profoundly impacted lives and caused turmoil, and I deeply regret that." He notes that many of BP's 23,000 U.S. employees live and work in the Gulf Coast region, and that BP has always tried to be "a good neighbor."