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. Pragmatic

    Just remember that Rand Paul says the same thing: he calls the President "un-American" for being "too tough" on BP:

    Sorry ... now is the time for average Americans to get the support they need – not the Big Oil companies ...

    June 17, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. fred astaire

    Stupid, ignorant, moronic, imbecilic all come to mind. Maybe he believes his comments but to verbalize makes those that voted for him look almost as dumb.

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

    Well which is it? Is Pres. Obama not doing enough or should BP decided on what to pay the people of the Gulf. The GOP needs to pick a side. I would think the $20 billion is a good start, but I guess that is too much pressure for the GOP and the Tea Party, Libertarians.

    June 17, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. dallas tx

    I think I am ashamed of him. I hope they run him out of Texas and Washington on a rail. He is a republican from Bush's administration and an oiltramp. Maybe if we are lucky the current will shift and all the oil will end up in Texas. Obviously if it fills up his bank account, he could care less about what happens to the environment and the people. I wonder if the people he supposedly represents agree with the jerk.

    June 17, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. ski

    I hear Barton is investing into two new business ventures;
    Seafood packed in its own cooking oil and
    Sunscreen that is applied simply by going swimming

    June 17, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. Joseph Amato

    Since the federal government can now extort money from a private company (BP) to supposedly offset the losses that will be absorbed by privately owned businesses in the Gulf Oil crisis; can I now ask the same administration to extract money from Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sacks, etc to pay business losses for legitimate claims from privately owned businesses due to the ongoing banking crisis?
    I have been a consultant to business owners and the commercial banking industry for 18 years. I represent hundreds of businesses that have either lost a large percentage of their revenue due to the banking/housing crisis, or had their borrowing capabilities reduced, or have been dropped completely by their respective banks.
    My company has lost half of its average yearly revenue due to the banking crisis, yet I have not been provided any reimbursement assistance by the federal government; nor have I sought payments from those culpable for our losses, including the federal government, its regulators and the financial institutions themselves.
    The banking crisis is not confined to the Gulf region and has affected a greater number of businesses across the country. So when the administration decided it was proper to use federal power to extort funds for businesses hurt by the oil spill on the Gulf Coast, why did it not do the same for all the businesses hurt nationally by the banking crisis; especially when the financial institutions collectively have deeper pockets than one oil company, namely BP?
    The public needs to understand that the two “crisis” are similar in many ways. To list a few, both oil and banking industries are heavily regulated and subject to ongoing federal oversight, both industries have been demonized by the administration and the press for historic abuses and greed, both industries have been poorly served by federal regulators who have failed to do their jobs properly (which may have averted each crisis), both will be subject to bigger government reaction and newer, stronger regulations from Congress responding to the administration’s need “to do something”.
    But as much as these “crisis” are similar, these industries have been handled very differently by the administration.
    The banking industry was offered TARP as a lifesaving measure because they were too big to fail. The administration pushed Congress to pursue bigger government answers to confront a nationwide problem they helped create. And the administration has done nothing for the businesses (the actual job creators) that have been crushed by the aforementioned bank’s unwillingness to extend credit to most businesses. The administration did not offer any support for the legitimate business losses for those directly affected by the banking crisis. Yet the financial institutions that caused the crisis continue to reap large profits without any relief to the businesses that continue to be affected.
    The oil industry continues to be a target of the administration whose agenda includes the eradication of fossil fuels in pursuit of green technologies. The administration’s focus is on pushing all blame for the current Gulf crisis on the industry (and BP specifically), accepting none of their own mismanagement and regulatory failures, and pursuing every dollar possible to “politically” reimburse Gulf Coast businesses for their losses.
    I am trying to understand why the administration chose to pursue the reimbursement of legitimate claims for Gulf Coast businesses while not even considering the losses incurred by business affected by the banking crisis.
    There is an inherit risk in business ownership that should be taken into consideration when setting this dangerous precedence of government-enforced reimbursement for Gulf Coast business losses from the private sector. But I believe there is even more danger in the federal government being selective in providing said enforcement.
    I am sorry for the losses that will be absorbed by Gulf Coast businesses and hope that each business owner can survive; but I am not sure that an oil rig accident (it has not been proven to be a criminal act) or even a hurricane in the Gulf Coast for that matter should cause the federal government to extort money from the private sector to compensate individual business losses under a free-market system.
    Does anyone else understand the ramifications of the administration’s actions? I cannot believe I am the only one.

    June 17, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Carlos

    Barton knows not to bite the hand that feeds him.

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

    This is Republican ideology at its most disgusting and deranged. Poor wittle BP. So sad.

    June 17, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. Seattle Sue

    Joe Barton is like a prostitute, brought and paid for by the oil companies. But that is not fair to prostitutes by comparing Joe Barton to them. Joe Barton has no problem with telling lies. What a rotten excuse for a human.

    June 17, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Dennis

    Now Boehner should close his mouth. Just last week he had to retract a statement where he said, "he believes taxpayers should help pick up the tab for the clean up." So c'mon now Johnny!!!

    June 17, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. Ken

    We need to bankrupt BP so the American Tax Payer can pick up the tab. Yea, thats the answer!

    June 17, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. CathyInAZ

    Really, the GOP wants to be on the side of BP – GO RIGHT AHEAD!
    Then after you are all thrown out of Congress, you can get a job with BP to clean up the mess. Remember, they aren't letting you use protective gear but then again with the likes of Barton, Bachmann and others, not giving them protection isn't such a bad idea!

    June 17, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  13. House Minority Leader John Boehner also added his voice to the GOP chorus disagreeing with Barton

    For once, I'm glad House Minority Leader John Boehner skipped his tanning session

    is it tanning or does he just paint himself orange?

    June 17, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. dan

    he had to say something for all the money they have given him!!!!!!

    June 17, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. CHUCK

    How in the world did this guy get elected. But when you are in the pocket of "Big Oil" you have to say certain things to keep the money coming in.

    June 17, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Barton should step down. He clearly is the wrong position. Who's side is he on???

    June 17, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Yvan

    Barton comments reflect the ideology of the Republican party that Capitalism at all costs is good for America. I feel sorry for Barton. Obviously his mouth is running faster than his brain. No wonder, he is from Texas. We used to have an another idiot from Texas , who President for 8 years, and had problems with his running mouth.

    June 17, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  18. Ron

    I guess some(one) members of the repug party are finally showing their true colors. They have always been a party of big business and big money. Catering to the ones who they could get the most kickbacks from.

    June 17, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. Nadeem

    He just said what every one in the GOP beleives. Drill baby Drill. Taxpalyers not corporations should pick up any bills.

    Shame on you GOP Shame!

    June 17, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Marilyn

    Mr. Barton is an idiot. Not because he is a Republican, but because he is from Texas and represents the district that includes Houston. Texans do love their oil wells! As long as they get dollars from drilling they simply do not care about the consequences. It's too bad this oil did not spill from a well just off the Texas coast resulting in a huge mess there. It would have been poetic justice.

    June 17, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. AEK

    Just another Republican trying to make points with his constituents regardless of how absurd the comment. I'm sure he is being hailed as a hero by the Limbaugh/Palin "get the government off the backs of corporations and let them conduct their business as they see fit" people. How's that workin out for the folks on the bijou?

    June 17, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. vet in tx

    "They are what we thought they were" – coach Denny Green

    June 17, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. wayne

    i think it was the correct statement it was a shakedown and i hope that b.p. will close all there wells and move out of the us. this is nothing but a dog and poney show but on by the democrats why don't everybody wait till its shut down then find out why .most of the trouble is from cnn stiring up this for rateings.

    June 17, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. TK

    LOL...wait a minute...he was just doing what most repubs have been told to do....Immediately disagree with anything the Obama administration does. Well i guess he should have thought about this one...and i'm surprised the rest of the Repubs did not have his back.....Oh well.

    June 17, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Tony

    Distance yourselves all you want but you can't run away from the fact that you republicans pushed for deregulation that led to this fiasco!

    June 17, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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