Texas’ delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives will get a major makeover next year. Nine Texans are leaving the House, and we’ve asked each of them to talk with Texas Standard about their time in office.
Rep. Joe Barton is a north Texas a Republican. He was first elected to Congress in 1984 and was part of a group of Texas Congressmen known as “the six pack.” who won election that year. Now, more than 30 years later he’s retiring after serving as vice-chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committees.
On the “blue wave” hitting Texas:
Well the national media and the Democrats are trying to play it that way, given the strength of Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign against Senator [Ted] Cruz. I’m not quite as pessimistic as they are optimistic. We, the Republicans, need to get our act together. We need to be a part of the solution on the immigration reform issue in addition to doing border security which all Republicans are for. We need to take care of the DACA population and have a really good immigration reform.
On his biggest accomplishment and regret:
Biggest accomplishment would be the effort I’ve led to have a free-market-based energy policy… In 2005 when I was chairman of the energy committee and we passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that protected hydraulic fracturing from EPA overregulation, which lead to the shale oil boom in the United States. And then two years ago my bill repealed the ban on crude oil exports. My biggest regret is that we’ve not structurally changed the budget process and our budget deficit is almost a trillion dollars.
On those pictures:
I’m very proud of my public life, I’m not quite as proud of my private life. But I faced it, I admitted that I had done some things that were not appropriate and I apologize to my ex-wife about that. I apologize to the public and after consulting with my fiancé and some of my political supporters and my family I decided to not run again. I was raised to be accountable and I was accountable about that. At least part of the time that happened I was married and I shouldn’t have done it.
On what’s next for him:
Every time you have a town hall somebody stands up and talks about this lush, plush congressional pension, well I’m here to tell you that I wish there was such a thing… There is a congressional pension account, but it’s not the lifetime salary that everyone says it is, so I’m looking for a job in the private sector. I’m very healthy, I have a 13-year-old son. I want to help get enough money saved to help him through college. I’m looking at some opportunities, but I’ll be active. I’m not going to go sit on the front porch in Ennis, Texas and feed the pigeons.