November 10, 2006

Barton Can't Hold Up Autism Research Any More

This week has brought something that I never thought I would experience in all my days. Happiness that the Republicans lost the House.

God said, "what you do to the least of these, you do unto Me". Apparently He didn't like what Joe Barton was doing to Him.

Research bill expected to pass under probable new head of committee

12:00 AM CST on Thursday, November 9, 2006

By RANDY LEE LOFTIS / The Dallas Morning News

Democratic control of the House changes the nation's environmental agenda and affects a related topic that has stirred strong feelings: research on autism.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, won his race, but with his party out of power, he will lose the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

That has raised hopes for those advocating House approval of a bill that Mr. Barton blocked this fall. His decision to prevent a vote on the nearly $1 billion autism package, which includes $45 million for research on possible environmental causes, infuriated parents of autistic children nationwide.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who will probably be the new committee chairman when the Democrats take control of the House next year, wants a House vote on the autism legislation. But Mike Bernoski of Arlington, father of a 3-year-old with autism, said advocates want action during the lame-duck congressional session before the year's end.

"We feel very positive that next year we can get this done," Mr. Bernoski said. "But this legislation's not going to be any different 12 months from now. The difference is by then we'll have another 36,000 kids with autism who won't have the benefit of the bill."

The old and new chairmen have nearly opposite environmental voting records.

In 2005, the League of Conservation Voters, the environmental movement's political arm, gave Mr. Barton a zero rating and Mr. Dingell 89 out of a possible 100.

The American Land Rights Association, which opposes restrictions on mining and other commercial activities on federal land, gave Mr. Barton a 100 in 2005 and Mr. Dingell a zero.

Mr. Barton's record includes:

• Pressing the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 and 2004 to leave Ellis County out of a regional smog plan that required pollution cuts from North Texas' biggest industries. Mike Leavitt, then head of the EPA, rebuffed Mr. Barton and put Ellis County in the plan.

• Holding hearings this year challenging the scientific basis of global warming.

• Seeking exemptions from environmental rules for refineries, limits on pollution lawsuits involving the gasoline additive MTBE, and extensions of federal deadlines for fighting urban smog. Each attempt failed.

Mr. Dingell's record includes:

• Pushing tougher clean-water laws and protection for endangered species and their habitats.

• Calling for an investigation of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force – the kind of probe that, as chairman, he could order.



Maddy said...

It's just as well that someone is politically savvy enough to keep us up to date.

The Values Voter said...

I feel the exact same way. Mr. Barton is a big part of the reason why even some conservative Americans felt happy with the change. I hope that he does the right thing and passes the Autism research bill during the lame duck session - I hope whatever is left of the House leadership puts a world of pressure on him to do that. I also hope he does not become the Minority leader. Especially in light of this week's Harvard study, we need to uncover every rock to find the cause and cure for Autism.