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. Loren

    Betcha I know which industry funds Rep. Barton's campaigns.

    June 17, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. Walter

    Not sure what all the fuss is about. Defending the rich, powerful, and irresponsible isn't a decision that Republicans make.

    Its a reflex.

    June 17, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. Thomas

    We don't even have to criticize Republicans...they are doing it to themselves! With people like Barton in the Republican fold, how is it that any reasonable person can call themselves a Republican without feeling ashamed. People are suffering a lot more than BP Mr. Barton...and they are suffering BECAUSE of BP!

    June 17, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. peachbear

    nothing else needs to be said. This is the way republicans think. THEY ARE corporate slaves and ONLY HAVE the corporations interest in mind. when are we in America EVER GOING TO QUIT ELECTING THESE CORPORATICIANS.

    June 17, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. Dave

    Let's recap. A republican says something he or she believes in fervently, finds out that the rest of the american public thinks he or she is kooky and then 1. retracts the statement and 2. apologizes profusely for all the hurt he or she has caused or 3. says he or she was misconstrued or misquoted or misunderstood.

    When in the devil is this type of behavior going to become unacceptable from any politician? What Barton said he truly believed and thats that. Don't color it with excuses or half baked public remarks. Be man or woman enough to owe up to the fact that this is what you believe and be done with it. You also need to be man or woman enough to stand up to the criticism of your beliefs when everyone else thinks they are goofy as all get out.

    Just another sniveling, whining, back pedling politician who sells his soul to anyone who will finance his or her campaign.

    June 17, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Who Cares?

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

    Oh No..The entire nation got exaclty what you said Barton...as you will find out the next time you are up for election

    Nice pathetic non-apology though. Right out of the Republican playbook.

    June 17, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Mike in NYC

    He prefaced his comment by saying he was speaking for himself and not for his party. This shows consideration and forethought, so retraction would be cowardly.

    It's refreshing, and all too uncommon, when someone sticks by their words.

    June 17, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. Minnesotan

    The difference between those GOPers that would repudiate Barton's remarks and those that would lambast the White House can be identified by those that are Tea Party Ultra Conservatives and those that are Moderate Republicans. The Tea Party has gone nuts with the partisan rhetoric and it needs to stop or they need to be held accountable. Hopefully, November will prove their bark is much worse that their bite.

    June 17, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. george1967

    Barton, Bachmann, Price, and Paul are all idiots. Here you have a foreign company trashing our sacred Gulf of Mexico, who clearly cut corners, who ignored warnings of their own employees, ignored safety procedures and saw 11 people KILLED, and still have not been able to fix their major mistake - and these republicans are defending BP?!? Paul went as far as to say it was unpatriotic to bash a foreign company trashing our national treasures?!? Where do these people come from.

    I've been a republican all my life, and I'm absolutely embarassed that members of my party are backing a foreign corrupt company causing undue harm to AMERICANS. There is NOTHING patriotic about that. I may have to become an independent if this keeps up.

    June 17, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. farmertx

    Boehner seems to forget ( evidently a Party requirement) that he was calling for the taxpayers to foot the bill for BP's geyser.

    Joe merely emphasizes what is wrong with the Republican leadership; it's all about the bribes. I am surprised that he retracted his ill-conceived comment. So much for backbone.

    Now it is up to the voter's in his District; is this a person that you want representing you? Forget what he says in the campaign - look at his past actions.

    Regardless, any action or lack thereof by President Obama will be met with opposition. After all, they ARE the Party of NO.

    June 17, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. Preston

    "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." He's sorry "if anything I've said this morning has been misconstrued." Texas. Republican. Oil. Don't worry, Joe, we get it. Loud and clear. I can't tell from the photo, but I'm willing to bet that you wear an American flag lapel pin. You are history.

    June 17, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. Charlie in Maine

    Why should he aplogize for saying what all you idots are thinking?

    June 17, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. Michael

    Get rid of these clowns who are in the back pocket of the oil companies!! Our government is supposed to be for the people, of the people, and by the people. Not for the oil companies and big business and this stupid assumption that it's okay to pollute and destroy the environment if there' s money to be made. I'm absolutely sickened by this country's misplaced priorities!! And BP should not only pay the 20B, but much much more, and should be forced to stop all drilling and start investing in clean energy and an end to fossil fuels. Before it's too late!!

    June 17, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    Congressman Barton has taken $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the Oil industry

    Need any more be said about him and his cronies that are held by the oil companies to vote FOR oil companies?

    June 17, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. Justin

    Wait? Are these the same GOP industry shills who are united in trying to keep us from holding financial firms accountable for the economic catastrophe they caused?

    It seems not all disasters are created equal.

    June 17, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. CTSadler

    Nothing was misconstrued. You're a pig and a lackey. Pretty clear.

    June 17, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. Slick William

    Since I've been out of work for two years now thanks to GW Bush's war, Obama's war and Obamanomics 100 (entry level) and the Libtard mentality surrounding the Housing market crash caused by Fannie and Freddie and that putz Barney Wanker I pretty much have plenty of time to read all these posts and torment the mentally ill equipped libtards on here, one of life's little pleasures left for me in socially tumultuous and distressed economic times. One of the hardest lessons to learn or realize in life is that there are so many stupid people out there, I don't mean ignorant or misinformed, I mean stupid, dumb, dirt, box of rocks stupid. What truly makes it scary is that they can vote, Yes they did, at least once....

    June 17, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Sara

    I think its disgusting what Rep. Joe Barton's said. Obama needed to shakeup BP. Obama need to get BP out there and clean up the mess. Can you just imagine what GOD is thinking. We are destroying our own planet.

    June 17, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. mms55

    keep talking republicans the american people will show you who side they are on come november.

    June 17, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Scott O' Canada

    Barton, and those in the GOP that agree with him, should be tarred and feathered. They could get a real feel for what some of the wildlife are going through. Just when you think the GOP can sink lower ... and still they get votes.

    June 17, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. lura McHale

    Barton step down? He should be impeached for his un American attitude and comments! So he is owned by the big oil industry, while his fellow Americans are broke, no hope for returning to their livelyhood and no one and no where to turn. Is he willing to support all these people affected by this disaster? He like Ms Angle should be stripped of all their health benefits and social security checks.

    June 17, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. tstorm

    Sitting and listening to Hayward try to defend BP's inexcusable actions in what has become the largest natural disaster in America's history is difficult enough. To hear Hayward sheepishly pass the buck or saying "I wasn't aware of that" is unspeakable.
    But then, to hear Republican Barton actually DEFEND BP and in effect say, "Quit picking on them!" is unbelievable! I could not believe the sickening words coming out of his mouth! Is he speaking for all Republicans?? Is this what the right wing really believes??? Fire Barton NOW!!

    June 17, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. Big Jilm

    Between these Republicans supporting foreign companies over the American people and the non-coherent Tea Party message, this will be a good year for Democrats.

    Keep giving them the mic -let them display their total hypocracy to us "little people" on personal responsibility. This disaster is due to BP cutting corners and they admitted fault. There is nothing "un-American" about expecting...no, demanding responsibility from these multi-billionares, Mr. Rand Paul and friends.

    What a bunch of traitors!

    June 17, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. frank

    After that comment from BARTON, how can anybody vote republican, how can you be republican, sad day in America.

    June 17, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. NoWay

    BP and Rep Barton are completely out of this world – literally.

    June 17, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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