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Rep. Joe Barton not in line to become energy chairman again

When Democrats demand that the Republican Party take away Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Tex.) ranking member status on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, they might be pushing on an open door. While Democrats prioritize seniority in assigning committee chairmanships -- Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) had to win an historic battle with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to get the top job on the committee -- Republicans rotate chairmanships every three terms. If the GOP wins the House in 2010, Barton's rotation will already have come and gone, so another member, such as Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) or Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), will be in line to run the committee.

Republicans can appeal for exceptions to this rule, and occasionally, they get them. But as of Monday, based on the conversations I've had with Republicans, there's no appetite for waiving the rule to protect Barton. It's possible that Barton, who is 60, could lead this committee again someday. But the odds of him leading it if the GOP wins in November are very, very slim. And that's one reason you're seeing Democrats try to move their focus from Barton to other Republicans, including members of the Republican Study Committee, who agreed with the "shakedown" part of his comments.

By David Weigel  |  June 21, 2010; 11:11 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Energy  
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