Joseph Linus "Joe" Barton (born September 15, 1949) is a Republican politician, representing Texas's 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1985, and a member of the Tea Party Caucus. The district includes Arlington, part of Fort Worth and several rural areas south of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Early life, education, and early career
Barton was born in Waco, Texas, the son of Bess Wynell (née Buice) and Larry Linus Barton. He graduated from Waco High School. He attended Texas A&M University in College Station on a Gifford-Hill Opportunity Award scholarship and received a B.S. in industrial engineering in 1972.
An M.Sc. in industrial administration from Purdue University followed in 1973. Following college Barton entered private industry until 1981 when he became a White House Fellow and served under United States Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards. Later, he began consulting for Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Co. before being elected to the United States Congress in 1984.
U.S. House of Representatives
Barton made his first run for elected office in 1984, when he entered the Republican primary for Texas's 6th congressional district after six-term incumbent Phil Gramm left his seat to run for the United States Senate that year. He finished first in the five-candidate field (42%) and very narrowly defeated Max Hoyt in the runoff (50%). He then defeated Democratic nominee and former State Representative Dan Kubiak 57%-43%. Barton was one of six freshmen Republican U.S.
congressmen elected from Texas in 1984 known as the Texas Six Pack.
In 1986, Barton won re-election against Democrat Pete Geren (who would later be elected to Congress from a neighboring district). He defeated him 56%-44%. Since then, he has never won re-election with less than 60% of the vote.
Barton tried to block the bipartisan Combating Autism Act of 2006. He said that the money steered toward environmental causes of autism were not the reason he blocked passage of the bill.
In March 2011, Barton sponsored the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, which would repeal the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed by Republican President George W. Bush.
The 2007 law would eliminate Incandescent light bulbs and force people to buy fluorescent bulbs which are less expensive and use significantly less energy. As a result, it lowers your electric bill and helps fight global warming. Barton said "People don't want Congress dictating what light fixtures they can use."
In November 2011, Barton criticized President Barack Obama for delaying his decision on the Keystone Pipeline. He said "We asked him to make a decision, not to wait another two years. That's bullshit.”
- BP Oil Spill
On June 17, 2010, Barton accused the White House of a "$20 billion shakedown" of oil giant BP after the company reached an agreement with Obama to establish an escrow account to pay the claims of people harmed by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
He made the accusation at the outset of a House hearing where BP's chief executive officer, Tony Hayward, appeared for the first time before Congress. Facing Hayward at the witness table, Barton said, "I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words — amounts to a shakedown, so I apologize." Prior to the establishment of the agreement, the Obama administration had been public in their criticism of BP for the oil spill; Barton and other critics accused the White House of attempting to deflect criticism on how they handled the situation, which made it more difficult for BP to raise short-term funds in the capital market for their operations.
Barton's remarks were widely criticized by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, Vice President Joe Biden, GOP congressional leadership and fellow Republicans, some of whom called on Barton to relinquish his leadership role in the House Energy Subcomittee.
Barton later said that his earlier remarks had been "misconstrued" and that he believed BP was responsible for the accident. Later that day, he issued a statement apologizing for using the term "shakedown" and fully retracted his apology to BP.
- Former Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, primary House author of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and chairman of the House-Senate energy conference committee.
- Both initiated and eliminated "safe harbor" provision for MTBE (in Energy Policy Act of 2005).
- Co-founded the Congressional Privacy Caucus, cosponsor of the anti-spyware SPY ACT, initiated National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006.
- Opposed the extension of the Voting Rights Act in 2006
- A list of all bills that Barton has introduced is available at Sponsored Bills and amendments at Amendments.
- Barton has been the lead representative in forcing the switch from analog to digital TV and auctioning off the public airwaves to private companies.
- Wind energy
Barton has questioned the wisdom of deficit spending to fund an extensive national wind turbine energy generation grid. He said, "Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about."
Barton voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 in both of its manifestations.
In 2005, prompted by a February 2005 Wall Street Journal article, Barton launched an investigation into two climate change studies from 1998 and 1999. In his letters to the authors of the studies he requested details on the studies and the sources of the authors grant funding. The Washington Post condemned Barton's investigation as a "witch-hunt". During Former Vice President Al Gore's testimony to the Energy and Commerce Committee in March 2007, Barton asserted to Gore that "You're not just off a little, you're totally wrong." Stating that "Global Warming science is uneven and evolving."
1993 U.S. Senate election
In 1993, Barton ran in the special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Lloyd Bentsen, who became United States Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration. Barton finished third in the contest, behind state treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison and Senator Bob Krueger, thus missing a runoff slot. He divided the more conservative vote in that election with House colleague Jack Fields of Houston.
Barton Family Foundation
The Barton Family Foundation was established to support charities within the congressman's district. His daughter-in-law, Amy Barton, is the Foundation's Executive Director. Major energy corporations, such as the Chicago-based nuclear energy producer, Exelon Corporation, make major gifts to the Foundation. In June 2008, at a time when Barton had introduced legislation to assist corporations with the recycling of spent nuclear fuel, the corporation donated $25,000 to the Foundation. Exelon has also donated $80,000 to Barton's campaign funds. The Foundation gave $90,000 to the local Boys and Girls Club.
Joe Barton and his wife Terri own several homes in the Texas cities of Ennis and Arlington. Barton has four children, two stepchildren and five grandchildren.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reported that Barton paid his wife Terri $57,759 in salary and bonuses, from his campaign funds in the 2006 election cycle. A spokesman said that Terri served as the campaign's outreach director and planned fund raising and special events. Barton's daughter Kristin was paid $12,622 in salary and bonuses and his mother, Nell Barton, was paid $7,000 for a car.
Barton's office announced that, on December 15, 2005, he suffered a heart attack and was taken to George Washington University Hospital.
Barton revealed during a congressional hearing on video games that he was a video game player. He announced that he had "worked [his] way up to Civilization IV".
Barton has also been an advocate of a playoff system to determine a national champion for college football, even introducing legislation to require that any game being marketed as a national championship game be a part of a playoff. On May 1, 2010, Barton grilled Bowl Championship Series coordinator John Swofford, saying of the BCS that, "It's like communism. You can't fix it." He also suggested that the 'C' be dropped from the BCS and it be called "the 'BS' system."
February 13th, 2012