Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1984, 15th term.

Born: September 15, 1949, Waco, TX

Home: Ennis, TX

Education: Texas A&M U., B.S. 1972, Purdue U., M.S. 1973

Professional Career: Asst. to V.P., Ennis Business Forms, 1973–81; White House Fellow, U.S. Dept. of Energy, 1981–82; Consultant, Atlantic Richfield Co., 1982–84.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Methodist

Family: Married (Terri Taylor) , 4 children (3 from previous marriage); 2 stepchildren ; 5 grandchildren

Republican Joe Barton, first elected in 1984, is an outspoken champion for the oil industry and is, along with Oklahoma GOP Sen. James Inhofe, a leading global-warming skeptic on Capitol Hill. Barton’s influence waned after he lost his bid to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee following his unpopular defense of BP during the 2010 oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Barton grew up in Ennis, in then-rural Ellis County. He graduated from Texas A&M and Purdue universities, worked as an oil company engineer, and then was a White House fellow in the Energy Department. When Republican Rep. Phil Gramm ran successfully for the Senate in 1984, Barton ran for his 6th District House seat. Barton won the Republican runoff by only 10 votes, and he went on to win the general election with 57% of the vote.

In the past, Barton sometimes strayed to the center on cultural issues, but since Democrat Barack Obama became president, he has been a rock-solid conservative. He opposed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s controversial budget blueprint in the 112th Congress (2011-12), but switched to back it in 2013. In 2012, House Republicans rallied around ending the Obama administration’s energy loan guarantee program following the collapse of California solar company Solyndra Corp. Barton, who helped write the 2005 law setting up the program, initially called for reforming it instead. But he ended up voting for the “No More Solyndras” legislation after The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and other conservatives ratcheted up pressure on him. The House voted in 2011 on his bill to repeal a 2007 law requiring light bulbs to be 25% to 30% more efficient, but the result fell short of the two-thirds support required under House rules.

Barton chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee before his party lost the House majority in 2006, and he hoped to continue in the top spot in the 112th Congress despite GOP-imposed term limits. He set up an aggressive operation in 2010 to boost his chances against Michigan’s Fred Upton, the Republican next in line on the panel. A 22-page critique of the moderate Upton’s record was circulated that accused him of being a “part-time Republican.” Though Barton said he wasn’t behind the effort, many Republicans were skeptical. The leadership-driven GOP Steering Committee picked Upton in December, and Barton chose not to challenge its decision.

The chairmanship defeat capped what was already a tough year for Barton. News reports surfaced in February that Barton had earned nearly $100,000 from an interest in natural gas wells that he bought from a campaign donor who had given him advice on energy policy. He said his investment was legal and presented no conflict with his legislative responsibilities. Then came the June committee hearing at which BP executives were grilled on the catastrophic spill in the Gulf. Barton apologized to the executives for the Obama administration’s decision to force it to establish a $20 billion fund—which he called “a shakedown”—to compensate people who lost their livelihoods in the aftermath. In light of the public’s anger over the spill, his remarks sparked a political uproar. GOP leaders threatened to strip him of his ranking spot on the committee, and Barton issued a retraction.

It was not the first time Barton’s contrariness had landed him in controversy. Discussing global warming with former Democratic Vice President Al Gore at hearings in 2007, Barton told Gore, who’d written a book on the topic, “You’re not just off a little. You’re totally wrong.” In a December 2009 C-SPAN interview, Barton said, “There’s ample evidence that warming generically, however it is caused, is a net benefit to mankind.” He was the party’s lead spokesman against the sweeping climate change bill passed by the House in June 2009. He offered his own bill that would have set emission standards for new coal and natural gas plants, but would not have penalized existing plants. Barton’s plan failed on a party-line vote. In March 2010, he introduced a bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases; it passed the House in April 2011 with unanimous GOP support, but did not move in the Democratically controlled Senate. When scientists pronounced 2012 the hottest year on record in the continental United States, Barton scoffed to The Dallas Morning News: “What are they going to say in the next three or four years when (the temperature) goes down a little bit?”

Barton also fought the Democrats’ health care proposals tooth-and-nail, but was often outgunned by California’s Henry Waxman, who took over the top Energy and Commerce Democratic slot in 2009. On some issues, Barton sought common ground with Waxman, as he had with Waxman’s predecessor as chairman, Democrat John Dingell of Michigan. He worked with committee Democrats on a proposal to approve generic versions of biologic drugs following a 12-year period of exclusivity for the inventor to recoup costs. And he worked with Dingell on a consensus approach to improved electronic medical records.

In earlier years, Barton had enjoyed a degree of success on the committee. In 1995, he became chairman of the panel’s Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee and used the platform to conduct extensive hearings of the nation’s food and drug laws. The result was enactment, with bipartisan support, of significant modernization of the Food and Drug Administration, encouraging the agency to more quickly review innovative drugs and medical devices. In 1999, he became chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee with jurisdiction over energy legislation. He managed to reach agreement in 2001 with Dingell on higher fuel economy standards. Barton pressed for action on electricity regulation, but he retreated from requiring utilities to join regional transmission organizations and sought to encourage them to do so. His bill passed the House but died in the Senate.

In 2004, after full committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., stepped down, Barton was selected to succeed him. He aroused some partisan ire when in September of that year he blocked committee Democrats’ demand for information about Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2001 energy task force. But he also worked successfully to win Democratic votes on some issues and to defend and expand the committee’s jurisdiction. Telecommunications issues are a major responsibility of Energy and Commerce, and in 2006, the House passed Barton’s bill to make it easier for telephone companies to enter the broadband market. But influential Democrats opposed the measure, and it died in the Senate. In 2010, Barton became one of the leading opponents of a Federal Communications Commission plan to increase regulation of broadband service companies.

On the 2005 energy bill, Barton insisted on retaining provisions protecting manufacturers of MTBE, a fuel additive that was discovered to be polluting groundwater. The bill became hung up over that provision as some lawmakers fought to hold the manufacturers responsible for expensive cleanup projects. Barton ultimately agreed to drop it in order to get a bill that could pass both chambers. With his help, the GOP majority was able to enact major energy legislation with $12 billion in incentives, an inventory of oil and natural gas reserves, and a one-month extension of daylight savings time.

At home, Barton was criticized by Democrats for seeking in 2003 and 2004 to keep Ellis County outside the Environmental Protection Agency’s Dallas region in applications of the stringent rules of the Clean Air Act. Ellis County is home to three cement producers and other companies whose political action committees and executives were big contributors to Barton’s campaigns, and the county produces 40% of the industrial emissions in North Texas. Barton said there was no connection between the contributions and his action and argued that there was no scientific basis for Ellis County’s inclusion. In 2004, the EPA decided otherwise and ordered the county to take steps to reduce air pollution.

Barton has had some political disappointments. He ran for the Senate in 1993 after Democrat Lloyd Bentsen resigned to become President Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary. He finished third with just 14% of the vote in the all-party primary. In September 2001, when Gramm announced his retirement from the Senate, Barton considered running for his seat. But the Bush White House favored Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and Barton stepped aside. After the 2006 election, he made a bid for minority leader, but discovered that John Boehner,R-Ohio, had wrapped up sufficient votes to win. Barton withdrew after six days.

He has been reelected easily in the 6th District. He suffered a heart attack in December 2005 but made a full recovery. He reportedly got into a spat with fellow Texas Republican Lamar Smith, the Judiciary Committee chairman, in early 2011 over the racial makeup of the state’s redistricted congressional boundaries in 2012. Smith sought to evenly split four new districts between Republicans and Democrats, giving Texas’ booming Hispanic population minority-majority seats in the Dallas and Houston areas. But Barton wanted to keep Republican voters dominant in three of the new districts. His plan passed the state legislature, but ultimately was tossed out in court, leading to a court-drawn map that ended up making his 6th District seat more Democratic. He won a four-way Republican primary with 63% of the vote, then beat Democrat Kenneth Sanders 58%-39%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2002

(202) 225-3052

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2107
Washington, DC 20515-4306

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2002

(202) 225-3052

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2107
Washington, DC 20515-4306

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-2002

(202) 225-3052

6001 West Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway Suite 200
Arlington, TX 76017-2811

DISTRICT OFFICE

(817) 543-1000

(817) 548-7029

6001 West Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway Suite 200
Arlington, TX 76017-2811

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-2002

(202) 225-3052

2106-A West Ennis Avenue
Ennis, TX 75119-3624

DISTRICT OFFICE

(972) 875-8488

(972) 875-1907

2106-A West Ennis Avenue
Ennis, TX 75119-3624

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 225-2002

(202) 225-3052

701 Williamsburg Drive
Ennis, TX 75119

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

701 Williamsburg Drive
Ennis, TX 75119

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Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Sophie Trainor
Health Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Appropriations

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Budget

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Commerce

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Communication

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Consumers

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Energy

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Environment

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Finance

Sophie Trainor
Health Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Health

Krista Rosenthall
Legislative Director

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Sophie Trainor
Health Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Housing

Sophie Trainor
Health Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Internet

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Judiciary

Krista Rosenthall
Legislative Director

Seniors

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Small Business

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Social Security

Sophie Trainor
Health Legislative Assistant

Tax

Sophie Trainor
Health Legislative Assistant

Technology

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Telecommunications

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Trade

Ann Thomas Johnston
Senior Advisor

Transportation

Amy Murphy
Legislative Assistant

amy.murphy@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2002

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Joe Barton
Votes: 92,285
Percent: 61.15%
David Cozad
Votes: 54,986
Percent: 36.44%
2012 GENERAL
Joe Barton
Votes: 145,019
Percent: 58.02%
Kenneth Sanders
Votes: 98,053
Percent: 39.23%
2012 PRIMARY
Joe Barton
Votes: 26,192
Percent: 63.22%
Joe Chow
Votes: 8,154
Percent: 19.68%
Frank Kuchar
Votes: 4,725
Percent: 11.41%
Itamar Gelbman
Votes: 2,356
Percent: 5.69%
2010 GENERAL
Joe Barton
Votes: 107,140
Percent: 65.91%
David Cozad
Votes: 50,717
Percent: 31.2%
2010 PRIMARY
Joe Barton
Votes: 46,095
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Joe Barton
Votes: 174,008
Percent: 62.02%
Ludwig Otto
Votes: 99,919
Percent: 35.61%
2008 PRIMARY
Joe Barton
Votes: 42,054
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (66%), 2008 (62%), 2006 (60%), 2004 (66%), 2002 (70%), 2000 (88%), 1998 (73%), 1996 (77%), 1994 (76%), 1992 (72%), 1990 (66%), 1988 (68%), 1986 (56%), 1984 (57%)

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