Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said Thursday that he's "confident" of his ability to nab an influential House chairmanship if Republicans win control of the chamber in Nov. 2's elections.
Barton, the top GOP member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, suggested that he fully intends to push a bid to become chairman of that committee, despite rules and colleagues' concerns that could threaten his ability to take that post. Barton's apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward over the summer was a gaffe that troubled many members of Barton's own party.
The most important consideration is whether Republicans win back the House, the Texas Republican said.
"If that happens, the Republican Steering Committee, which I'm a member of, would nominate to the full conference, and I am confident that I will be nominated, and I am confident, hopefully, that the conference would confirm me to be chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee," Barton explained Thursday on CNBC.
House Republicans' rules limit to three the number of terms a lawmaker can serve in the top position on a committee. A member like Barton would need to apply for a waiver in order to serve again, since he's served one term as chairman, from 2004 to 2006, and has served as the committee's ranking member from 2007 to the present. The GOP's rules are ambiguous, though, as to whether time served atop a committee while in the minority should count against members.
"I served ... one term when we were in the majority back in 2006, and according to our rules, I'm allowed to serve for three terms as chairman, so I believe I would have two more terms that I could be chairman," Barton explained on CNBC.
But even if Barton were to win his rules challenge, he's still expected to face a competitive race within the House GOP conference. The congressman rankled Republicans after apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a hearing this summer, during which he called the $20 billion relief account the Obama administration had forced BP to create a "slush fund."
"I'm a Texan, I'm an engineer, I'm an Aggie engineer, I'm an honest person, I speak the truth as I know it," Barton said of his gaffe. "Sometimes that's good. Sometimes it does ruffle feathers."
Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) are all seen as other candidates for the chairmanship.
Barton said he'd had a "cordial" conversation with House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn BoehnerFormer House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages Former House GOP leader Bob Michel dies at 93 Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist MORE (R-Ohio), the likely Speaker under a Republican majority, earlier this week.