GOP Energy Committee Fight Gets Ugly

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


I reported recently that Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.)—famed of late for his apology (and later apology for that apology) to BP—is seeking a term limit waiver so he can again serve as chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Well, there’s been plenty of action recently when it comes to GOP jockeying for top spot on this key panel.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) still looks like the frontrunner for the post. Republican caucus rules state, “No individual shall serve more than three consecutive terms as chairman or ranking member of a standing, select, joint or ad hoc committee or subcommittee,” which preclude Barton, currently the ranking member, from taking the post. That is, unless he can convince fellow Republicans to give him a free pass for another turn.

Meanwhile, someone—allegedly team Barton—has been circulating a detailed, 22-page record of Upton’s voting history, an attempt to prove that he doesn’t have the conservative bonafides to serve in the top spot. Barton told The Hill yesterday that he’s not behind the oppo report. Meanwhile, he is circulating a letter signed by three Republican committee chairmen supporting his bid.

“We believe he deserves that second term now, and that neither the spirit nor the letter of the rule was ever intended to prevent it,” wrote Bill Archer (R-Tex.), Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) in a letter to the House GOP Transition Team this week.

Upton, for his part, has been flexing his conservative credentials in the media, with recent columns in the Washington Times and Human Events highlighting his plans to badger the Environmental Protection Agency and White House Energy and Climate Adviser Carol Browner.

Meanwhile, there’s still an outside chance that someone else on the committee could take the top spot—someone like Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.). Shimkus, in an interview with Politico this week, reaffirmed his belief that the climate change isn’t happening because it’s not in the Bible. Yes, you read that right. Shimkus has said for some time that the basis for his disbelief that climate change is an urgent concern is the book of Genesis. Now he could potentially end up in charge of the committee that takes the leading role on this area of policy. If that’s the case, God help us all.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate