At a Glance
- Career History: U.S. Representative (since 1985); consultant, Atlantic Richfield Co. (1982-1984); White House Fellow, U.S. Department of Energy, (1981-1982)
- Birthday: Sept. 15, 1949
- Hometown: Ennis, Texas
- Alma Mater: Texas A&M University, B.S. 1972; Purdue University, M.S. 1973
- Spouse: Terri Barton
- Religion: Methodist
- Committees: House Energy and Commerce Committee (ranking member)
- DC Office: 2109 Rayburn Building, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-2002
- District Offices: Arlington, 817-543-1000; Ennis, 972-875-8488; Crockett, 936-544-8488
Path to Power
Born in Waco in 1949, Barton was raised in Ennis, Texas, a small town south of Dallas where he still lives with his wife and six children. His father was a salesman for an agriculture company, and as a boy, Barton was described by one childhood friend as a "straight arrow" in school.He attended Texas A&M on a scholarship, earning an award in industrial engineering that led to a master's degree at Purdue University in Indiana.
Barton came home to Ennis after Purdue and spent eight years working for a local printing company. He became engaged with public service through volunteer work. He chaired a local parks board and helped create a volunteer ambulance service in Houston County. He moved to Washington after Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, serving as a White House fellow at the Energy Department. When his fellowship ended, Barton returned to Texas to work for the Atlantic Richfield oil company, but his absence from Washington would be brief.
Barton has both campaigned and voted as a conservative throughout his tenure. He has voted with his party 93 percent of the time during the 111th Congress.
Barton backs gun rights and opposes abortion rights, making an exception for the life of the mother. He supports private retirement accounts for Social Security and opposes measures that allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country. One exception to his social conservatism is his support for stem-cell research, which he believes "will ultimately yield knowledge and therapies that enhance, prolong and protect human life."
Barton has been close to his predecessor in the House, Phil Gramm, and his predecessor as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Billy Tauzin (R-La.), now the head of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America.
But he has gained a reputation for rankling some colleagues, including Republicans. Barton has irked the House Republican leadership with his maverick streak as a committee chairman and his penchant for jurisdictional battles. And he did not ingratiate himself with House Minority Leader John Boehner by briefly bidding for that post in 2006.