BP defender Joe Barton won’t lead House energy panel


WASHINGTON — Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who apologized to BP last summer during the Gulf oil spill and then backtracked under pressure from GOP leaders, has failed in his effort to be named the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 112th Congress.

The House GOP Steering Committee, controlled by House incoming Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, selected Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., to chairman the committee instead.

In a statement, Barton said: “It has been a privilege to serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee for 24 of my 26 years in the House of Representatives, and it was a high honor to lead this committee.

“Now I want to offer my congratulations to Fred, who is taking over the best committee in Congress. He has an enormous job ahead, and I’m going to do everything I know how to make his chairmanship the kind of success that the American people want and expect.”

Barton ran an energetic campaign, arguing that the three-term limit to be the top Republican on the panel should not be applied since he only served one term as chairman, but Upton prevailed. There were two other candidates: Reps. John Shimkus of Illinois and Cliff Stearns of Florida.

Barton has the opportunity to object Wednesday during the GOP Conference meeting, called to ratify the selections of committee leaders. If he or someone objects to any chairman recommendation, then all incoming Republicans will vote whether or not to send the choice back to the steering committee.

Upton said in a statement: “We face many challenges, but priority number one is to repeal the job-killing Obama-care law. While the various subcommittee posts will be filled in the days ahead, the fight to repeal Obama-care starts now and I am pleased to appoint Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., as chairman of the health subcommittee. Together, we will protect the sanctity of life, ensuring early next Congress that no federal funds are used for abortion.”

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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