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. Adalbert

    There are nut jobs everywhere.

    June 17, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Mike

    Typical GOP congressman who is out of touch and readily wating to blame anything and everything on Obama. I am surpirsed he didn't throw in a socialist or big government comment – Oh wait we have Beck and Limbaugh that will do that for him! Not saying the Dems are great by any means, just that GOP'ers are totally ignorant to the plight of everday Americans!

    June 17, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Winston

    Representative Barton obviously did not receive the memo that you cannot condemn every action that the Obama Administration takes without facing consequences – even from your own party.

    June 17, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. Tom in Texas

    Anybody who supports this guy in Nov. ought to be ashamed to do so, but there are always idiots out there just like him.

    June 17, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Kratos

    You have got to be kidding me...

    June 17, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    This is what you call the "talking point grenade method" and the GOP has been masters of it for years now. It's an offshoot of the "say anything strategery." What you do is take a situation...anything really...Obama did X, the Dems said Y...doesn't matter...you just pinpoint something that could be good for the other side and take the opposite position in some fashion. Then, you invent a talking point...some half-a$$ed irrational accusation spinning faster than an astro-glide-covered Tucker Carlson on Sean Hannity's naked lap...and make sure it bears some loose relationship to your sacred ideological dogma to which your drooling Borg-like base has assimilated. Next, you draw straws to see who is going to throw the talking point grenade into the public forum. He or she doesn't really have to go out of his way either...the "news" media will be all too happy to blast it all over the country, meritless or not. Then you wait and gauge the public's reaction and, based on whether it goes along with it or not, you either (a) beam it to every tinfoil hat wearing Limbot Beck-worshipping numbnut in the country for immediate regurgitation or (b) throw the guy who tossed the talking point grenade under the bus (it's only fair...he drew the shortest straw after all), at which point he issues an insincere fake apology or, more likely, yammers a barely coherent rationalization sufficient to earn him the party-liners' forgiveness and turn him into a joke with the rest of us for 2 weeks.

    Get it? Got it? Good.

    June 17, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. RickN

    Ok, those that don't like the escrow fund have to answer publicly what other way there can be guarantees that BP will cough up the money later. I have to wonder how anyone can take their position. Talk about siding with a corporation over the interests of people who have been dumped on by corporate screw-ups! How much money is Barton and Bachman getting from BP and other oil companies? It's time to have a spreadsheet that shows how much money a senator or representative gets from special interests and how they vote on issues. Let's see the correlations!!!!!

    June 17, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. sandy

    He wanted to make a statement and hedid insert foot into mouth. He wanted to make it political and it backfired thank God. He said what all the Republicans are thinking but don't have the guts to say. They are all fools and now the people of this country can see they are not for the people, they are for the oil companies and all other big business. Our President did the right thing and it's about time that the people of this country stop listening to these idiots and stand behind our president. Nothing like this spill has ever happened in this country and I think our President is doing everything humanly possible to solve this problem. He has been given more on his plate than any other President in history and because he is a black man (yes, this is the reason they are all against him) they are hell bent to bring him down. I am a white woman but I have eyes and ears and it is obvious of the reason for the Republicans behavior. I stand behind my President and I wish more who do would stand up

    June 17, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Rob R

    Awesome back-handed apology....kinda like I'm sorry if my hitting you somehow caused you pain...

    June 17, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. mack Johnson

    Barton, Bachmann, Boehner, Price, McConnell, Paul and countless other republican rightwing nuts (including Tea Partyers) never expected that a situation would eventuate so quickly that would expose them for what they really believe and want and who they support regardless of dire consequences accruing to ordinary Americans. If Obama is involved regardless of the outcome it must be vile and wrong. What are they waiting on? They believe that this represent a "government takeover" of the oil industry–fleecing, extorting, and shaking down BP. Gulf coast residents open your eyes and see who really support you in your time of need.

    June 17, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. mike

    Barton is another republican scum bag who will say anything to
    put down Obama even at the expense of the american people
    if it was a democrat that made the same statement you would
    have idiot races like rush, beck and palin talking about this all day
    and night Barton is nothing but a little cowboy queer from texas

    June 17, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Shucks

    He is from Texas. He's a Bushy oil man. What would you expect him to say.

    June 17, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. Brian Whitetop

    You've have got to be kidding me....a sitting US Rep who apologizes to BP. This guy is so far out of touch, he should resign and go back to his BP-financed estate (likely away from the Gulf coast). Our people are hurting and it's the direct result of BP's carelessness. We should shut that company down and put their criminal board in prison. Split the company's assets amongst the residents of the Gulf coast to help them survive this tragedy.
    Where are the national republicans in condemning the words of one of their party members? Repudiate now or join the list on insiders we seek to get out of Congress this November!!

    June 17, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. ConsiderThis - FL

    Of course he should resign. He obviously doesn't represent the people who elected him, he represents the people who paid for his campaign. Let him go work for BP since he has such of since that they're the victim in this mess – that they caused. People like him are cancers on our society and for him to hold a position of leadership in our government is insane. But hey, this is America. Anything goes. We have no morals or principles. All people have to do for their wrong-doing is "apologize" – a grossly over-used word that should be eliminated from the English language-because it means absolutely nothing!

    June 17, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. Arthur

    This congress man is in oil company pocket

    June 17, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. dave thomas

    these idiots will spew anything from their filthy mouths at any given time, they have no idea how shameful it is to be an american right now because of the words and actions of these rednecks, they have no place in politics, and then you have this super idiot Palin, whom people pay to see someone who has not a clue whats a country or a continent clue, whom had to be given classes to even speak before she could debate, its really a shameful day, i would rather say i am chinese or anything than to be apart of what these idiots shown how stupid america really is.

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

    Barton, Bachman, Price–the Tea Party is showing its true colors. Anti-government, pro-big business. anti-working class. These people claim to speak for the average guy on Main Street. Don't be fooled for a second. Their philosophy is "survival of the fittest." No compassion. It's all about free-enterprise and the big shall eat the small.

    June 17, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Sue

    We need "do process" for corporations but for the "small" guy not so much.

    June 17, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. lib4ever

    Barton is a political cretin and of course right behind her is Michele Bachmann...the GOP follie a deux

    June 17, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. MN Hockey Mom

    Keep talking Bachmann.... show EVERYONE what a nut job you really are!!!

    June 17, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. Jared from Delaware

    Bachmann, Price and Barton are clearly idiots of the highest possible caliber.

    They are nothing more than shills for Big Oil, suckling at BP's teats.

    Pathetic and shameful. Obviously, their greed – and the large sums of bribery they accepted from the oil giants – renders them all completely incapable of being unbiased, intelligent or serving in a political office.

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

    Barton is a whore and a traitor. I cannot believe any American would vote for this man.

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

    Well, Michele Bachmann called it extortion because Michele Bachmann is a crazy person. She will be the first in line to suggest that Obama "do something" about the spill. But, we can't spend our own money to clean it up, and we can't make BP spend money to clean it up. She will say something about Jesus, and then say something about the Tea Party, and then she'll show a little cleavage, and then she'll collect her gigantic check for her next campaign from said Tea Party.

    June 17, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. dave thomas

    a woman or whatever you call it pig in lipstick cant care for her own family correctly how the hell can she give a dog advice, the bottom of every joke in the world, but the republicans love her, and big fat rush hahaha a doper, an impotent dope head, but they love him hahahaha,, this country is really sick,,,, i can see russia from my house, it still rings in my ears, such an intelligent woman,

    June 17, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |

    Mr. Barton's apology to BP is to prevent the well from running dry for him. He has received over 1 Million in campaign contributions from oil companies, he HAS to support them now – and we all know the loyalties of politicians are with the financial providers, not with the public at large.

    June 17, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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