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

Republicans distance themselves from Barton

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/17/art.barton.gi.jpg caption=" 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. Bill

    How did this clown get into office? This is who Texans choose to make laws in this nation?

    June 17, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. jon

    how do you misconstrue shakedown. he said it he meant it. another Texan oil whore

    June 17, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. Michael

    How can, "I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday. 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," possibly be misconstrued? Enjoy your re-election bid in 2012, Rep. Barton, after a hurricane skims all that oil from the Gulf and lands it in my home town of Houston. Wouldn't you know it? He doesn't represent a single acre of once-pristine Texas shoreline. Please, Rep. Barton, do your part and pick up the bully pulpit, and really run with this issue. Encourage your Republican colleagues to do the same. The sooner I can have you no longer representing my Lone Star State, the better.

    June 17, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. bobcat1a

    Barton obviously meant what he said. He is a bought and paid for shill for corporate interests with little concern for "the people." So when he retracts his comments does that mean he doesn't believe what he said or just that he knows it was unpopular so he wants to pretend he didn't really mean it? I'm betting on the latter.

    June 17, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. andrew

    hmm so you want the government to pay for a company's environmental disaster? sounds like socialism to me

    June 17, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. FloridaRes

    It is not surprising that Barton a GOP member from TEXAS tried to defend the oil company CEO and BP. TEXAS is all about oil.

    Obama didn't "force BP" to set aside a damage fund – he discussed it with Hayward who made the correct decision. Why are Bachmann, Price and Barton so out of touch with the people of the U.S. on this issue? The answer is that they get lots and lots of money from the oil industry and are beholdent to them. They could care less about the Amercian people as long as they are wealthy and have their pockets lined. Don't forget this!

    June 17, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. j.e.

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

    THIS IS NOT AN APOLOGY......Barton is only apologizing for what he thinks is the listener's failure to properly construe his message.

    What an actual apology should have looked like: "I apologize for MAKING THIS STATEMENT."

    June 17, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. PalmReader

    The lack of GOP leadership has allowed the fringe to take control of the GOP to a point that I doubt many true republicans are even welcomed anymore.

    How on earth can we trust this new GOP, when time after time, so many mainstream GOPers continue to sit back, trying to distance themselves from the reality of the harm Tea Party fanatics are doing to the GOP?

    How can we trust that the GOP would not allow this same behavior to take control of our Congress?

    I used to joke that Limbaugh is the leader of the GOP. Not joking anymore. Clearly he is.

    The GOP have allowed the very core of America to be torn to shreds. It will be a long, long time before I ever think to vote republican again.

    June 17, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. Objective observer

    Today I drove by a 3 gas stations, all in a line – BP, Admiral, and Shell. I noticed that 2 of the stations were PACKED with cars gassing up (and one waiting line). But one station – BP – was EMPTY. Striking. I think it is amazing to see that people en masse are keeping away from BP. Yes, it appears we have an addiction to oil, but it also appears that people are saying that if you don't respect the laws of the land, you don't deserve our patronage.

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

    When it's cold, you want it hot - when it's hot, you want it cold.

    Yes, BP is responsible for the oil spill and should rightfully pay the claims; if they have to set aside an "escrow fund" to do it, then so be it!
    If the government offered to pay the claims, you'd be whining about that! So make up your mind; you can't have it both ways.

    Only because your comment backfired on you did you apologize and say the comment was misconstrued.

    June 17, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  11. free market capitalism does NOT = democracy

    Don't agree with barton but at least he says what all tea party and republicans believe and have been fighting for the past 15 years and longer....for the government to get out of the way and let corporations do whatever they need to do to make money.......the other repubs, especially boehner, are hiding but they can't wait for drilling to start again and to rip down those solar panels and wind turbines...... free market energy at the least cost is the short term profit repubs want

    June 17, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. In the West

    Typical money-centered, exploitative conservative republican. And they wonder why they lost the White House, the Senate and the House? Let's keep them a PERMANENT minority in American politics!

    June 17, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He is so open with his anti-government pro-business stand that the he doesn't understand that BP needs to be held accountable. If you were one to make a mess, then you need to be the one to clean it up. BP tried to get away with doing things on the cheap, and it backfired. They need to be shown that there is no reason to skimp on the safety equipment.

    June 17, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Faith/Jacksonville

    Just like a Republican...it doesn't matter the "PRESIDENT" do or say, one of them has to be judgemental against him. Would Barton had been pleased if it was 1, 2, 3, billions. Just as the statement made early by "Oprah"...What do people expect him to do, he's doing his very best as "THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF". People who speak before they think are just idiots or mean what they said and hope no way notice and when they do...they come back with some lame excuse about what they meant to say or it was taken out of context. GO TO HE...L ALL YOU REPUBLICANS.


    June 17, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. Future expat

    You know what the worst part is? Pundits all over the place are talking about how this is a golden opportunity to highlight the GOP's pandering to the oil industry now and before the disaster.

    I'm sure the Obama administration will drop the ball on this one too.

    June 17, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. hernando romero

    people!People! Let the Republicans speak!

    And the Tea baggers too!

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

    Mr. Barton apologizes to BP! Is he real? Does he go to church? What an insult to the people on the Gulf coast! Cooperate greed, instead of finding a solution to stop the oil spill. How is he representing his constituents? Too bad that he is representing TEXAS, such a great state.

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

    What more evidence can there be where his loyalties lie? Apologizing to the Chairman of BP??? You've got to be kidding me. This man should resign in disgrace not just from his committee, but from the House altogether because it wasn't a knee-jerk reaction he expressed. It was intentional and with a malicious level of ignorance aforethought.

    June 17, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. James M. Holmes

    Republicans doing the heavy lifting for their corporate masters? Who woulda thunk it?

    Maybe Americans will someday wake up to the fact that the GOP could care less about them and that the GOP only cares about who gives them the biggest bribes... ummm contributions to their personal war chests?

    Best thing about this was FOXNews getting busted editing this apology out of their broadcasts – the only people FOXNews is fooling anymore are their ignorant followers!

    June 17, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. sleepy bear

    Oh I did not really mean what I said.......Bye, bye idiot, take a few more talking heads with you!

    June 17, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Robert

    They should all resign. Systematically and cynically destroying the wealth and future prospects of millions of people, including those yet unborn, starting wars of aggression that kill and maim hundreds of thousands while bankrupting this country, legalizing torture, assassination and spying, and lying about these crimes day in, day out are all more egregious offenses than pointing out a shakedown.

    June 17, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. Republicans is smart in the head area

    Unbelievable. Now his remarks were "misconstrued". It's not him, it's everyone else on the planet that is to blame. He was just speaking the truth and we were all just too stupid to understand, Texas 6 is in play in November.

    June 17, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. Too True For You

    See, if this had been done in the Bush administration (HA!HA!HA!HA!HA! Whew, let me catch my breath...) then it would have been strong leadership.

    But since it came out of the Obama administration, it is clearly wrong and must be criticized with all due conservative sanctimony, er, I mean sincerity.

    "Spill, baby, spill!" Uh, sorry again...I meant "Drill, baby, drill!"

    June 17, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. Gil

    Opps! I'm sorry, If what I said shows that the Party of No supports lobbyists and big oil more than the American people!

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

    Watching the broadcast on MSNBC today......I was stunned and appalled at this man's comment and apology. What country does he live in? This just confirms what the majority Already know about the Republicans. They are out of touch and in the "pockets" of these "big companies" that was given the Green Light to do what they pleased to America and it's people. These are the same ones "yelling" a week ago about the President not doing enough to "stop" the Leak. No, the President didn't OWN this company....and didn't DEREGULATE this industry to do what it pleased. Not only did he go down there on 4 different occasions, he sought out the problems of the "little people", addressed the country, brought them to the White House, literally "spanked" them, made 'em apologize and got 20+ BILLION for the "little people". Now do you REALLLLLLY think they (republicans) are smarter or HAVE the American people at heart? Think again! No, they are in the political "game" for SELF- Gains. I listened to Michelle Bachman who said this was Obama "spreading the wealth", while the idiot Rep. King is talking about Obama "favoring" black people. Now these are the "scums" that are sitting in our capitol pretending it's not anything but their selfish reasons. Stop the Bullsh!!!! in this country or we all Drown in the Sh! that "big companies" giving us without being the biggest employers. Walmart Is! Truck Stops are! Burger King is! KFC is! McDonald's IS.....replacing their employees with heads of households as opposed to grooming school kids to be responsible "fixing" burgers at 10.00 an hour. I want to "puke" listening and looking at the Republican party that turned this country into a "service" country under the Reagan administration........and this is the End Result. SEEEEEEEE

    June 17, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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