The Texas lawmaker who apologized to BP for the US government’s insistence that the oil giant set up a fund to compensate oil spill victims may soon be the most powerful voice in the House on US energy policy.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is a leading contender for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a position he held once before, during the 2004-2006 congressional session.
Barton brought attention to himself in June, when the Obama administration announced that BP would set up a $20-billion escrow fund to compensate businesses and households affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said. “I think it’s a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown … in this case, a $20 billion shakedown with the Attorney General of the United States….”
Barton concluded: “I’m not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize.”
The Texas lawmaker quickly apologized, after his comments were condemned even by fellow Republicans. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he “couldn’t disagree with Barton more,” while Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) called for Barton to lose his position as the ranking Republican on the energy committee.
Now, with the Republicans back in control of House committees in the upcoming session, Barton has announced his desire to chair the committee once more. “I will ask my colleagues for the privilege of serving as chairman of the committee I love, the House Energy and Commerce Committee,” he wrote last week in a column for the Washington Times.
A BIG BOOST FOR BIG OIL?
As the New York Times noted shortly after the “apology” controversy, Barton “has long been one of the top beneficiaries of campaign donations from big energy companies, cornerstones of the Texas economy.”
“BP and other major players in the oil business might hope for more of [Barton’s] kind of solicitude from the House Energy and Commerce panel,” writes Brett Michael Dykes at The Upshot. Dykes argues that putting Barton back in the Energy and Commerce driver’s seat could be bad politics for the GOP.
The Democrats got plenty of mileage out of Barton’s comments this election season, running ads that stated, among other things, “This is how Republicans would govern.” And in his campaign stops around the country, President Obama often singled out Barton’s potential committee chairmanship as reason enough to vote for Democrats.ADVERTISEMENT
“The top Republican on the Energy Committee, you may recall — this is the guy who would be in charge of the Energy Committee in the House of Representatives — apologized after the oil spill to BP,” President Obama recently said at a luncheon in Ohio. “Remember this? He apologized because I had said to BP, ‘you need to set aside $20 billion to make sure that we’re making fishermen and small business owners whole as a consequence of your mistakes.’ This guy, he apologized to BP … Imagine that. That’s what’s at stake in this election.”
Barton faces competition from Republican Fred Upton, a 12-term congressman from Michigan. Upton said last week he would target the health reform law passed by Democrats earlier this year, and try to dismantle it piece by piece.
“I know there’s going to be a vote to repeal the whole thing if we take over, but in all likelihood we’re not going to have the votes to override,” Upton said. “I look at this a little bit like a Jenga game. It’s a good game with my kids. We’re going to look at the pieces.”
Dikes notes that Barton can’t win the chair without violating rules limiting tenure (he was chair from 2004 to 2006 and the ranking Republican in the most recent session). He would need a waiver from the Republican leadership to take up the position.
Trump Twitter-rages at ‘evil propaganda machine’ New York Times
President Donald Trump kicked off his Sunday morning by going on a multi-tweet rant about the New York Times where he blamed them for his poor poll numbers and called them "an evil propaganda machine.'
Trump began with, "The Failing New York Times, in one of the most devastating portrayals of bad journalism in history, got caught by a leaker that they are shifting from their Phony Russian Collusion Narrative (the Mueller Report & his testimony were a total disaster), to a Racism Witch Hunt....., " before adding, "'Journalism' has reached a new low in the history of our Country. It is nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party. The reporting is so false, biased and evil that it has now become a very sick joke...But the public is aware! #CROOKEDJOURNALISM."
Trump suggests hitting France with 100 percent tariff on wine over dispute with Macron
According to a report from Bloomberg, President Donald Trump publicly suggested that he would consider a 100 percent tariff on wines coming from France.
The report states that the president recently made the suggestion as part of his trade war that has crippled American manufacturers and farmers while at the same time hitting American consumers' wallets.
Trump's comments came during a recent Long Island fundraiser and were tied to his unhappiness with President Emmanuel Macron and his tax on multinational technology companies.
Gun found in FedEx package sent from US to China
Chinese authorities have found at least one firearm in a FedEx package sent from the US, local police said Sunday, in the latest incident to befall the logistics firm in China.
Police in Fuzhou, eastern Fujian province, said "in recent days" they had received a tip about a package sent to a Fujian-based sporting goods company.
The parcel was sent by a US client and contained at least one firearm, said Jin'an district police through their official Twitter-like Weibo account.
The firearm has been seized and officers are investigating, they added, without specifying the number of weapons in the package.