June 17th, 2010
03:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Republicans distance themselves from Barton

 Barton is facing fire from a string of his GOP colleagues.
Barton is facing fire from a string of his GOP colleagues.

(Updated with additional GOP criticism of Barton remarks and Barton's apology)

(CNN) - A string of Republicans are taking aim at Rep. Joe Barton's sentiments earlier Thursday that criticized the Obama administration for pushing BP to set aside $20 billion for damage compensation.

Barton, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, later apologized "if anything I've said this morning has been misconstrued." Several GOP sources tell CNN he was under pressure from his own leadership to make a statement.

Within minutes of his verbal apology, Barton released a written statement retracting his apology to BP.

Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He should step down as Ranking Member of the Committee, "said Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican who represents portions of the Florida coastline significantly impacted by the BP oil spill.

Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Putnam, another Florida Republican, said Barton "owes the people of the gulf coast an apology, not the CEO of the company that caused this mess."

On Miller's call for Barton step down from the committee post, Putnam didn't outright call for the Texas Republican to resign, but said," There are a lot of conversations going on right now."

Rep Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, also said he disagreed with the comments and added he was informed Barton was going to retract them. Scalise also said that "it's not my decision to make" if Barton remains in his leadership position.

House Minority Leader John Boehner also added his voice to the GOP chorus disagreeing with Barton's comments.

"I have said since the beginning that BP ought to be held responsible for every dime of this tragedy," the Ohio Republican said. "They ought to be held accountable to stop the leak and get it cleaned up as soon as possible."

The uproar came hours after Barton expressed regret to BP Chairman Tony Hayward that the company was forced to set aside the massive sum of money in an escrow account to pay for future claims arising from the oil spill.

"I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday," he said during a congressional hearing in which Hayward was testifying. "I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation would be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown – in this case a $20 billion dollar shakedown."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement Thursday that "members from both parties should repudiate [Barton's] comments."

Vice President Joe Biden also took aim at Barton Thursday, calling his comments "incredibly insensitive, incredibly out of touch."

Some Republicans however have expressed sentiments similar to Barton’s. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Rep. Michele Bachmann called the escrow fund “extortion.” And Rep. Tom Price said in a statement that President Obama has “no legal authority” to force BP to set aside a damage fund.


Filed under: Energy • GOP • Joe Barton • John Boehner • Popular Posts
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. GetOverIt

    Republicans are really torn here – who do they hate more? Obama or BP? Bit of a poser......

    June 17, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Pat Mendias

    Is Joe Barton an American or just a money-grubbing Republican? Can't he see beyond the oil companies he so loves? Doesn't he care what has been done to the Gulf. These oystermen and shrimpers will never get their livelihood back in their lifetimes. It will probably take 50 years for that area to come back in a manner that will support these industries. I don't agree with everything the President does, but on the issue of a fund to reimburse these hard-hit people, I support it 100%

    June 17, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. a little sad

    Barton, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, later apologized "if anything I've said this morning has been misconstrued."

    **************

    Ah, the Republican walk back.

    I don't think he can walk far enough back from those words.

    June 17, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Republican politicians in the pocket of the oil companies just can't help themselves. They have to open their mouths and say something stupid. When the oil company CEOs say jump, Rep. Barton asks, "How high?"

    June 17, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  5. Eric from Texas Gulf Coast

    I'm from Texas and absolutely ashamed of what Mr. Barton said this morning; he embarrased "us" with his idiotic statement. I can say with conviction that his comments do not represent what we feel here on the Texas gulf coast (Houston metro). Its reprehensible and representative of how the Republicans have been treating American citizens; we're expendable cogs in the wheel of "business." I'm a small businessman with energy-based customers; that doesn't mean diddly to me in as far as what's best for America.

    June 17, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. jbakaregit

    Barton merely expressed what the GOP has ALWAYS been about - soley for big business and the rich. Period. Their ideology is about "small government," and the fact that the free market will always sort itself out w/no regulations or guidance from the people's government. This oil spill and the GOP's reaction to it is the natural and predictable conclusion of such a platform and ideology.

    Barton is siding with BP, a foreign multinational corporation, over the American people, especially the people who's live depends on the Gulf of Mexico.

    It's time to put the rest of the GOP out to pasture come November. They have demonstrated more clear by the day that they could give a rip about the United States.

    June 17, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. gg

    what does a retract do the thing is he said them , he cares more about his freinds in the oil companies then the little people that live on the gulf coast, i,d be playing his statment every day in the coast area until the leak is stopped

    June 17, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. Bob Ramos

    Somebody got to Barton and now he is running scared. Bachman is hopeless.

    June 17, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. Tom

    It took over 20 years for the folks hurt by the Valdez spill get paid back by Exxon.

    TWENTY YEARS.

    Last week, the GOP wanted Obama to "take charge" and force BP to do something, now that he has, he's a socialist and abusing the power of his office.

    Hypocrisy. meet truth.

    June 17, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. Jim Brodie

    "Rep. Tom Price said in a statement that President Obama has “no legal authority” to force BP to set aside a damage fund" Unless it was reported elsewhere, I wasn't aware that the president used legal authority to get BP to set aside the damage fund. It was strictly voluntary on their part (though BP's lawyers and PR people no doubt couldn't come up with any rational response other than to concede to this request.)

    June 17, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Art Moon

    It is now summer time in Texas, and very hot winds blow during this season. Unfortunately, no little amount of that heated air originates from the lungs of Texan politicians.

    June 17, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. Moderate Sean

    I wonder who's pockets this Republican Barton is well into? Even his on party is turning their backs on him...would you expect anything less from a Repub from Texas....can we say Oil Country??

    June 17, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. Keith S.

    So the conservatives don't want any government money spent on the clean-up and they don't want the private sector entity responsible for the spill to be required to pay for the clean-up, they just want to blame Obama for not cleaning up the spill. Interesting.

    June 17, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. awaker

    He's a traitor and should be forced to leave the US.

    June 17, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Delphine Morgan

    This is just disgusting!These Republicans need to loose their jobs with these comments they are making lately.They need to know the American people are not going to stand for this anymore.They want the President to fail and do not care what they say because they know they will get away with it.

    June 17, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  16. Brijhy

    See what I mean about the GOP. Hypocrites! All of them!

    June 17, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. Holden Mirror

    What is Boehner doing chastising Barton? Boehner is the one who wants the taxpayers to pay for the clean-up...... being that he is a Corporate Welfare Advocate and all.

    June 17, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  18. Howard

    I was under the impression that it was the courts that decided liability and compensation for damages in these matters. Did the President dismantle the judicial system?

    June 17, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. Malcomxboxlive

    Barton's remarks don't deserve a comment. He wouldn't hear it anyway because he obviously doesn't live on planet earth.

    June 17, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Shucks

    What a wonderful bunch of Coconuts!!! Bachman and Price should resign also. What was it? Hari Kari

    June 17, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. AC

    Barton should be impeached. It's clear he represents corporations over people. And yes, corporations aren't people!

    June 17, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Irma in North Carolina

    Who does Barton think he is. The president has a lot more authority than this Jerk Head Price. and He must be one of Bushes buddies and the people from fox news plus Palin and Bachman.

    June 17, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. Terry

    wonder if BP traded a big campaign contribution for these remarks.

    June 17, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Redneck_Ted

    Barton represents the Grand Oil Party. I hope he gets targeted this fall.
    His comments should be run repeatedly by his opponent. This man should NOT be in any leadership position.

    June 17, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. Marc

    Joe Barton was just doing what he THOUGHT he was supposed to do which is attack President Obama on ANY issue. Take the opposite stance, no matter what the issue. This is what politics has become in the 21st century.....for both parties. Partisan attacks that accomplish nothing other than to raise funds from their loyal bases. No wonder this country is slowly rotting away. Sad. Don't worry though....he will explain within the next 24 hours that he made an "unfortunate statement" or that he "misspoke" or that his words were taken out of context and life will go on for him and the other crooks in congress. VOTE OUT THE INCUMBNENTS, NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU LIKE THEM BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY WAY WE WILL EVER SEE TERM LIMITS!!!!!!!!!!

    June 17, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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