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. saywha??

    The party of no has done it again. When the President says something, the rethugs say "no". Now they are forced to defend one of their own or at least soften the blow. The rethugs are SO out of touch with the American people.

    June 17, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Debi

    Shake down BP and give it to the people of Florida.... we did not ask for off shore oil drilling or the disasters from it. Why should we have to suffer the consequences?

    Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama wanted drill-baby-drill. Florida did not. You get what you give and Florida did not give in to destroying our beaches for the sake of money and jobs.

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

    Obviously this guy is being paid off by BP. Typical repub scumbag. His funding should be investigated and if he is getting any money from any type of energy company he should be made to step down as it is a conflict of interest.

    June 17, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Ken in NC

    This is a problem we are having on a daily basis in this counrty today. A person makes an insensitive comment about something or someone and then after the uproar and anger that person walks it back and says "I didn't mean it that way" or "If I offended someone, I apologize".

    These people ment just what they said and had every intention of making the statement. They did it because they think the publice is so stupid that they wil beleive them when they say they didn't mean it. Fact of the matter is that they said what they wanted to say and use an "OOOoooops I'm sorry" to get out of it.

    Congressman Barton is a Congressman elected to represent the Oil Industry so it is expected that he will represent his Bosses (BIG OIL). THEY OWN HIM AND OTHERS, LOCK, STOCK AND BARREL.

    June 17, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. Chuck G

    The balls of big business are on the chins of all the Republicans, who are they trying to kid.

    June 17, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    See? Just goes to show you...like I've been sayign to you GOPer clowns all along: the "say anything" strategery IS NOT WORKING. You are NOT going to convince the American public that Obama convincing BP to put $20B in an escrow fund is an example of "big government' interference with private enterprise and therefore some giant threat of socialism or communism or marxism or fascism or whatever stupid misused -ism you want to attach to it. GROW UP.

    June 17, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. Stacey

    Really? What for? The GOP is on the side of big oil companies like BP. That jerk Barton was speaking for the GOP and the tea baggers. Too late for them to "distance" themselves. America wake up! Go to the polls in November and vote the party of No out! GOP = Grand Oil Party.

    June 17, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  8. nomad

    Funny thing is, as much as I disagreed with the comments when I read them this am, I was not surprised to hear it coming from this Rethug. He's all snuggly in bed with big oil, and not a bit ashamed of it, either. He knows who butters his bread.

    June 17, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Anthony Beasley

    I guess Barton didn't get the memo on talking points. He was still reading the old memo that said whatever the President does is bad and whatever he says, do the opposite! It's funny watching Republicans scramble for cover for this. I guess being an obstructionist can get confusing after a bit. You don't know what you're supposed to be for or against sometimes.

    June 17, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Mike

    LOL so the Coward only retracted when he found out the Rest of the GOP distanced themselves from him..............A little LONELY out there on that Branch by yourself huh????

    June 17, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. Morris

    is it a surprise that a congressman from Texas would be defending big oil?

    June 17, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. Rick

    not at all why dont you crying liberal SLObama supporting republicans step down since you cannot do any better than SLObama at running the country, you are all wastes to the American way of life, all LOSERS,

    June 17, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Ken, AZ

    Mr. Barton can retract all he wants.... you can't unring a bell.

    June 17, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Robert in Texas

    Old Joe Barton is just another out of touch crackpot republican from Texas.... unfortunately we have many.

    June 17, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Are you kidding me?

    I can't be mad at them, you don't jump onto a 'sinking ship"! At least they have sense enough to "come in out of the rain"! Listen, we will not pay attention to losers, we just want BP to "shakedown" some recompense to the famlies whose livelihoods was taken from them through NO FAULT of their own!!!!!!!! As for the comments made in defense of BP, we will remmember in November!!!!!!!

    June 17, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Buddy

    Barton is a D I R T B A G...Bought and paid for with oil money, over $3.3 million...

    June 17, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  17. Donnatella

    I love it, I hope the people in the gulf give him hell, we all know who paid him off. What is wrong with this man is he crazy? These brits destroy our entire gulf coast and he defends them, he should be fired.

    June 17, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. Turnabout is Fair Play

    What do you expect for a typical Republican, they are so bought and paid for by the oil company lobbyists that they sometime forget they're not in a closed door meeting with them and other Republican maggots. He just slipped up and realized it too late. Expect nothing less from neo-cons like him and the others are just the sharks that turn on one of their own when it is injured. My apologies to real sharks that should not have such a disgusting comparison used against them.

    June 17, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. montag

    Another corporate-shill Republican nutjob. Do these people have no shame whatsoever? How can any American even think of votong for one of these GOP whackjobs?

    June 17, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. American Patriot - a "real" tea partier

    What he said was utterly stupid.

    And let's face it - if doing or saying something utterly stupid was grounds for dismissal, then every GOP senator and representative and every person on FOX News would have been waiting in the unemployment line for YEARS.

    So can we fire the entire GOP?

    June 17, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. Nick , California

    I must be on another planet!!! A Republican defending the Presidents decision!!!??? What about Michelle Bachman??? She was criticizing the Presidents move and said that BP shouldn't be an ATM!!!! Its funny how how the Tea Party screams for the Government to get out of the way and then when a PRIVATE company destroys the coastline they cry for the Governments help!!! You can't have it both ways!!

    June 17, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Bill in Austin

    Another Texan has embarrassed the state of Texas. However, lets not forget the comments of Congressman Bachmann from Minnesota who was also cozying up to BP. Of course she has a history of insensitive and factless comments.They both should be censored and voted out of office.

    June 17, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. CR

    No surprise. Many Republicans are pulling out the stops to shield BP from liability. Big Oil, Wall Street, insurance companies, defense contractors,...own the Republican Party.

    June 17, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Please

    Its people like this jerk that prevented any serious regulation of oil drilling in the first place. Yah Barton, it would be better to litigate this matter for 20 years instead of having money ready to aid the clean up and those that lost their livelihood. GOP is all about corporations and screw the employee. Good job GOP, way to look out.

    June 17, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Tom from Ohio

    BP + Republicans = best friends forever

    June 17, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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