June 17th, 2010
03:30 PM ET
10 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. Diane

    Wasn't Bohner calling for a cap on damages at one point? DOn't you think that's relevant to this story?

    June 17, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. SocialismBad

    If BP was being uncooperative then they would deserve the shabby treatment and demonization Obozo has heaped on them. BUT they have been doing their best to stop the leak and pay for cleanup, EVEN THOUGH ARE ARE LIMITED TO $75 MILLION IN DAMAGES. It is clear Obozo is more interested in attacking them then working with them to get the job done. His irresponsible attacks and the acts of his administration have driven the value of BP stock down by huge amounts. THIS HAS COST MILLIONS OF AMERCIANS OWING THIS STOCK! Their actions have even threatened our relations with our closest ally, England!

    Obozo and the DemocRATS are CLUELESS about what to do so do the only thing they know how, attack and demonize and shakedown.

    June 17, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. AmFem

    And the GOP says that Limbaugh isn't their leader. This guy is repeating what the gasbag said yesterday (while imitating one of the President's daughters)!!!

    June 17, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Future expat

    Will Libertarians EVER stop wallowing in theory?

    June 17, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. Darth Vadik, CA

    Just goes to show that posture is not might, LOL

    And Republicans are all posture, with little chickenhawk hearts. Boehner is tops, when the fire hits him in the behind he's as quiet as a Dingo.

    June 17, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. rdepontb

    Barton's comments, "speaking just for myself" as he says while on national television sitting in the catbird while on a Federal Congressional panel, echo the same lack of civility as his famous brother-in-arms from South Carolina, Mr. You Lie! it is.

    Rep Boehner, thank you for replacing Barton's offensive nonsense with some touch of humanity. And, good luck, with people like that to tend after.

    June 17, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Angus McDugan

    Barton is a political idiot and his timing is horrible. We should look to not elect such people to our public offices as they obviously line-up right behind their special interest groups.

    What was he thinking? Must want a job a BP because he just made political hay for his rivals.

    How did this people ever get elected? Don't say money from special interest groups because we voted for them.

    June 17, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Victim of GOP Taliban

    oh no, no, no John...don't even try that game. You said that the taxpayers should pay and defended your Big $ corporate sponsor Masters. Now go back on work on that nice tan at your country club estate.

    June 17, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. get real

    Did Rep. Boehner just say the President's actions and the results from those actions are a good thing? Wow! A brief moment of lucidity from one of the members of the president bashing gang. Thank you for this moment Representative Boehner!

    June 17, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. anthony

    Well republicans have always been the party of big oil and big business, and dont care much for the "small" people. They always side with corporations when they vote in congress, and this dumb a$$ just didnt get the memo that that dog wont hunt anymore.

    June 17, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. John

    Too late! Barton is the third Republican to rush to BP's defense, after Paul and Bachmann.

    June 17, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. Ms. White

    Didn't Boehner support BP in the beginning????

    June 17, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. hayden zeke

    Apologize to a British company? No way, no how.

    June 17, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Rob R

    Barton's statement needs to be reverberated in every single Democratic candidate's TV ads from now until November. He is the perfect example of why Republicans SHOULD NOT be elected.

    As I understand it, Barton received over $100,000 from oil and gas companies. So it is amazing to me that he would brazenly make such remarks knowing full well that the 24/7 media would look into his contributions.

    I really hope his comments turn into a blessing for the Dems this election. We cannot afford more Republicans getting back into Congress and threatening prospects for more regulation of the oil and financial industries – otherwise we will have learned nothing of the events over the past 2 years.

    June 17, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. MARTY, AL

    Don't run from his comments, you all think alike and will do or say anything to bring the President Obama down.

    June 17, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. Rob Johnson

    Barton's comments were astonishing, even coming from a Republican from a big oil industry state like Texas.

    Who exactly does Barton think should pay for the spill? I think we can all agree that Obama hasn't handled this as well as he could have, but ultimate responsibility for this lies directly with BP. They cut corners on safety at every turn, setting the stage for this disaster.

    A million dollars worth of extra safety equipment could have prevented all of this. Let that be a lesson to any other company that would play fast and loose with the rules in order to save a few bucks.

    June 17, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. WTF

    You are a disgrace Joe Barton. Step down and take a swim in the Gulf.

    June 17, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. ellid

    That anyone could APOLOGIZE to BP for this is revolting. This man has neither decency nor shame.

    June 17, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. jeff

    Proving once again the sort of characters you find in the Republican party these days. Don't worry, congressman, Fox loves you.

    June 17, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. irma r carranza

    Shame on Joe Barton for politicizing the BP compensation fund in a time of great need. Typical Republican strategy of 'no' and bashing continues at whatever cost to the American people.

    June 17, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Tony

    John BONER is a joke. He's outright lying when he says "from the very beginning" because it's on record both in audio and video that he said BP AND the Federal government (aka TAXPAYERS) should clean up this mess and share in the responsibility. He won't even admit what he said. And this other Republican Barton should go jump off a bridge into the Gulf and swim in the oil BP spilled. How can anyone vote for a Republican? I just don't get it.

    June 17, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  22. Jim Raye

    This is proof positive that campaign contributions from big oil can degrade a politicians thought process to the point of being an embarassment to himself and his country and harmful to the people of the gulf region and beyond.

    June 17, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. leah from tx

    Republican rhetoric. These guys are laughable....how about asking Mr. Haward who did make the decisions that he "was not party to"/ Perhaps, those items answered with "met MMS approval/standards, we could be told what these standards are. As for the "shakedown, holding a company responsible for the damage they have done is reasonable. This kind... See More of escrow account was not used with Grace Co. & Anaconda Copper and the state of Montana has been left with poison ground and rivers. Check out Libby and East Helena for a start. This money is a safeguard!

    June 17, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. Rosslaw

    How can anyone on earth be surprised? Protecting a BP is the reason Barton and his ilk exist. The entire Republican party agrees with Barton that the clean up cost should be borne by the American taxpayer but shy away only from the completely tone deaf timing of Barton's verbal farts-not the substance.

    June 17, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. Bobby

    He is so wrong by what he did. What was he thinking?

    June 17, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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