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. WOW!

    I am not surprised to hear Bachmann say something that is completely crazed, but for Barton, out of Texas, he is clearly not aware. I wonder how he would feel if Texas was getting pounded with oil from the GoM.

    June 17, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. Vinod

    Should it be any surprise that reepublicans in general are not with common people, they care only about big businesses, because that's where their money comes from.

    June 17, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Dave

    Barton's not the only one, though. He's the only one who flat-out apologized, but there are a lot of Republicans expressing sympathy for poooooooor BP. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said everyone was being too hard on them, and Haley Barbour – Mississippi's #1 embarrassment – said people need to cut BP some slack because they're a business. And it goes on and on.

    Republicans are corporatists. They don't care about anything but corporate profits and the rich... because those are the people who give them their payoffs. Republicans are in politics for one reason... and that reason definitely is NOT public service or a sense of duty to one's country.

    June 17, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. Robert

    so the GOP which paints itself as for limited government is now turning on one of its people who is trying to limit the power of government. hmmm. phony conservatism. when will the far right realize that government can be a good thing and if they keep bashing it with their extremism, eventually they will find that people who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones.

    June 17, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. ED

    Sound off with your $'s.

    BOYCOTT ARCO (in California)

    June 17, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. Saxo Grammaticus

    MISconstrued? No, I think the remarks were construed accurately. We have someone here who is obviously more worried about the wealth of BP's shareholders and the careers of BP's executives than in any harm to man or beast that results from the debacle in the Gulf.

    June 17, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Rush - Barton - Beck - Palin "Shill, Baby Shill"

    Here's the face of the GO[B]P

    June 17, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. Walther Schaydtsteen

    Oh republicans! Michele Bachmann says what you are all thinking, and you don't have her back? What's next, John Boehner in Birkenstocks?

    June 17, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. Seth

    I just don't understand what the Republicans uproar is about, its always been their stance to side with foreigners against ordinary American families.
    They have sent our jobs to China, given foreigners our mineral resources, refuse to allow us to reign in foreign Corporations.

    June 17, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  10. streetsmart

    Yeah before the BP fiasco the GOP always mocked and scoffed enviromentalists for their concerns about pollution of our planet and their citing big business reckless disregard towards the enviroment. Legislation was passed years ago to regulate these industries and the cost to do this messed with big business's profit margin. Then came Dubya who then deregulated them, said it was unfair and that the govt was interfering with private enterprise and deregulation was the first step towards smaller govt. Now that its to late the nay sayers that were on board with the GOP about deregulation realize that govt needs to regulate the private sector to insure that guidelines were met to protect the safety of the American public. For example; airline industry ,food & drug industry, working enviroments, banks (Dubya deregulated that one to) etc. Now the GOP want to blame Obama for the catastrophe that was caused by their deregulation/smaller govt strategy and make out that they are so enviromentally conscience but Rep Barton let it slip out what they are really thinking; blame Obama and dont cite big business (BP) for any $ or responsibility. Rather than admit they made a mistake about deregulation they want pretend theyre so appalled at the pollution in the Gulf to avoid the wrath of the voters come Nov. And the sheeple that follow them so stupidly will believe anything theyre told. They always do. And the beat goes on.....

    June 17, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. Larry L

    I'm shocked! A Texas Republican pimping for big oil? I wonder if our Governor has heard about this guy...

    June 17, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. cando

    I have seen and heard so much from some members and speakers from the republician party that just look down right crazy. What gives with these guys? Do they hate our president so much that even when he does something good for our country they try to act like it is bad?

    June 17, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. CaliforniaBC

    Comments "misconstrued"?? Ya think?? I don't see how else they could have been taken. They were pretty straightforward. This TEXAS republican sees the oil companies and big business as more valuable than individual people are suffering from a disaster caused by said corporations.

    And as far as retracting his statements....sorry that don't do anything. He still feels the way he feels and a retraction doesn't change a thing. I listened to his "Apology to Big Oil" and they were well thought out. He put a decent amount of time into them. This gave him plenty of time to determine if they were acceptable or not. He made the choice to put them into the Congressional record. This person has shown himself as representative of the oil industry NOT the constituents of his district in Texas.

    June 17, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. Mike Mc

    This disgusting shill's true colors were exposed today, it is exactly his kind of thinking that put us in this position in the first place..Oil and industry first.

    Obviously his message doesn't deviate too far from the standard GOP agenda which is troubling, however, I'm sure more than a few lawmakers in the Republican ranks are beginning to see the light regarding lax regulation and oversight over an industry that could potentially destroy a vital ecosystem and millions of Americans way of life.

    June 17, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Shawn

    I am a Republican, and I am applauded by Barton's statements. He needs to go, because he is most definitely in someone (BP's) back pocket.

    But this is the difference with liberals and conservatives. Conservatives are smart enough to see when one of their representatives needs to go.

    June 17, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. Robert

    America WAKE UP!!!! THE REPUBLICAN PARTY are all about BIG OIL, BIG CORPORATION, AND BIG INSURANCE. Please vote in November. Support the democrats and independants.

    June 17, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    It's beyond words what this idiot said, This just show's whose side he is on!!! He should resign and take a job with BP

    June 17, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Chas in Iowa

    "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."

    If there was ever a question of the GOP being firmly in the pocket of big business it should be clear to anyone now.

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

    Are you kidding me? "Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Rep. Michele Bachmann called the escrow fund 'extortion.'" Politicians are supposed to have the best interests of their constituents in mind. Apparently it's the oil companies who these Tea Party banner members put first.

    June 17, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Another repub tool.

    June 17, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. Un-educated

    Michele Bachmann, Tom Price, John Boehner said the American Tax payer should also contribute (So much for TEA Party), Rand Pau and Sarah Palin. His statement is what the majority of Republicans think, but would never say for fear of showing their real faces. The conservative, Libertarian, TEA partier group would completely do away with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and public education.

    Please, I hope no one is surprised by these comments.

    Obama should have utilized all that oil well drill equipment kept behind the White House and caped that well himself. The conservatives has protected these companies from paying taxes, why would they think these companies should be paying money from their profits to clean up their own mess.

    June 17, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. jake747

    Extortion? Extortion?!? Are you kidding me??? Spewing millions of gallons of oil, continuously, into the Gulf of Mexico...ignoring safety precautions and cutting corners leading to 11 dead...threatening beaches, wildlife, and livelihoods of hardworking Americans across the gulf...and Barton and Bachmann want to call it extortion?

    Wow! Dumbfounded. Unbelievable. Bottom-line, they are backing an irresponsible foreign company over our great country and people. Please, please vote these folks out of office. I thought Republicans loved America? How can you really love America that much if you love BP more?

    June 17, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. Tom

    "Misconstruction"? "Misconstrued"?

    Barton's Comments were PREPARED and WRITTEN OUT beforehand.

    His were the opening statements! He didn't apologize for anything. I guess he thinks Obama's still a criminal and the escrow fund is a "Slush Fund".

    June 17, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  24. Mike

    After all, the GOP matra is "drill baby drill". Behined cover, all GOP members are fighting for the big oil companies!

    June 17, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Earl Fey

    This is confusing. The rebubs want thrir cake and eat it too. Blame Bush and you are playing the blame game. Blame Oboma and you are reflecting the view of real americans. BP and the Govt are both resoponsible but the govt should not pay. $20B is aslush fund, not enough, illegal, it will only goto the unions and Oboma friends, the requlations were inadequate and that caused the spill but in the mean time [forever] drill baby drill] Oboma knew how to fix the leak but refused to it so that the country would heaven forbid finally get serious about oil, Stock holders are entiled to gains but losses should be socilized. What I haven't covered NO NO NO.... will cover

    June 17, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
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