January 3, 1985
|Preceded by||Phil Gramm|
|Born||September 15, 1949
|Alma mater||Texas A&M University, Purdue University|
Barton was born in Waco, Texas to Bess Wynell 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 Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards. Later, he began consulting for Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Co. before being elected to Congress in 1984.
Barton was elected to represent Texas's 6th congressional district in his first attempt, defeating Democratic opponent Dan Kubiak with 56% of the vote in a contest to succeed Phil Gramm, who left his seat to run for the United States Senate that year. He was one of six freshmen Republican congressmen elected from Texas in 1984 known as the Texas Six Pack. He received 88% of the vote in 2000, 71% of the vote in 2002 against Democratic challenger Felix Alvarado, and 66% of the vote in 2004 against Democratic challenger Morris Meyer.
In 1993, Barton ran in the special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Lloyd Bentsen, who became Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration. Barton finished third in the contest and missed a runoff slot.
Rep. Barton has been regarded as a global warming skeptic and his opposition to addressing global warming has been consistent and long-term. As a chairman with primary responsibility over the energy sector, Barton has consistently acted over the years to prevent congressional action on global warming. In 2001, Barton declared, "as long as I am chairman, [regulating global warming pollution] is off the table indefinitely. I don't want there to be any uncertainty about that." Barton led opposition to amendments that would have recognized global warming during consideration of the Energy Advancement and Conservation Act in 2001, opposing an amendment to require the President to develop and implement a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels as called for by the non-binding United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the U.S. is a party to. In 2003, Barton again opposed amendments that would have recognized global warming during consideration of the National Energy Policy Act of 2003, opposing a nonbinding amendment that would have put Congress on record as saying that the U.S. should "demonstrate international leadership and responsibility in reducing the health, environmental, and economic risks posed by climate change." In July 2003, Barton offered an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act to remove language that both recognized global warming and called on President Bush to reengage with the international community to find solutions. In addition, Barton has consistently opposed proposals to reduce the nation's dependence on oil.
In 2005, prompted by a February 2005 Wall Street Journal article, Rep. Barton has launched an investigation into two climate change studies from 1998 and 1999. In his letters to the authors of the studies, he requested not just details on the studies themselves but significant information about their entire lives and previous studies. This has been widely regarded as an attempted attack on the scientists rather than a serious attempt to understand the science, although some view it as a normal exercise of the committee's responsibility and an effort to make possible scientific debate on a subject within its jurisdiction. The Washington Post condemned Barton's investigation as a "witch-hunt". Environmental Science & Technology, an obscure policy journal often cited by politicians, including Barton, reported what it said was scientific proof that global warming science is wrong. See also Barton's own response to this controversy in The Dallas Morning News. The dispute expanded with Sherwood Boehlert's House Science Committee taking a strong interest.
In 2006, Barton earned two "environmental harm demerits" from the conservative watchdog group Republicans for Environmental Protection, the first "for derailing floor passage of a sense of the House resolution ... acknowledging climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions"; the second, "for holding hearings, in his role as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, designed to intimidate climate scientists and raise doubt about the impacts and causes of climate change." The hearings were held by Barton's committee on July 19, 2006, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations; there, several skeptics testified regarding the hockey stick graph.
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," thus reinforcing his denial that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global climate change.
Barton used his committee chairmanship to block the Combating Autism Act of 2006, despite overwhelming bipartisan support. Barton claimed the money steered toward environmental causes of autism were not the reason he blocked passage of the bill, however, he voted for passage of the bill once the environmental language was removed.
In 2003, Barton divorced his first wife, the former Janet Sue Winslow, with whom he has three children. Janet received some media attention as a victim of identity theft, and Barton has used her as an example when discussing identity theft legislation. He is now married to Terri Barton, and they have one child, Jack, who was born in 2005, and he has two stepchildren, Cullen Taylor and Lindsay Taylor, from Terri's previous marriage.
Citizens for Ethics 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 fundraising 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.
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 $400,000 to the local Boys and Girls Club enabling the organization to build a new facility.
Congressman Barton voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act. FEC data shows that in his career, Barton has received almost $2.2 million from the Healthcare industry, $1.5 million of that coming from PACs. This is second only to the amount of money Barton has raised from the Energy sector. 
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, Barton grilled BCS 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 "the 'BS' system."
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 6th congressional district
1985 – present
|Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee