Energy and Commerce Republicans voice support for Barton for chairman

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Eight Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce publicly voiced support on Wednesday for Rep. Joe Barton of Texas to be made chair of the Committee in the coming Congress.

In a letter circulated today and addressed to fellow House Republicans, the eight Republicans sing Barton’s praises, and emphasize Barton’s ability to take on Democrats.

“You know Joe,” reads the letter, which was released this morning by Rep. Michael Burgess. “He has provided unyielding conservative leadership during our protracted partisan battles over cap-and-trade and health-care reform.”

“Under Joe’s leadership, and despite being outnumbered and outgunned, we subjected the Democrats’ health bill to 17 days of brutal markup,” the letter continues, “including a 10-day retreat by the Democrats to regroup despite their overwhelming superiority of numbers … They won, but it was stubborn, intelligent Joe Barton who made certain that they’d won a Pyrrhic victory.”

The letter touts Barton’s leadership in opposing cap-and-trade, and the fact that he “rejected and killed the deal brokered by Henry Waxman to allow the Obama administration FCC to regulate the internet for the first time.”

The eight committee members call Barton a “principled conservative who you can count on in committee and on the floor,” and conclude with the opinion that “it is essential to the new mission of all Republicans in the House that he have the opportunity to serve a second term.”

The letter was signed by Ralph Hall, Cliff Stearns, John Shimkus, Joe Pitts, Lee Terry, Michael Burgess, Marsha Blackburn and Steve Scalise — more than half of Republican committee members who will return in January. Both Shimkus and Stearns had expressed interest in the chairmanship in the past few weeks, but both said they would defer to Barton if he were granted a waiver.

Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan is also seeking the chairmanship. To be eligible for the position, Barton would need to get a waiver from future Speaker of the House John Boehner to serve another term.