Areas of Practice
  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1990
  • Yale College, B.A., 1985
Bar & Court Admissions
  • District of Columbia

James D. Barnette

1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
TEL: +1 202 429 6207
FAX: +1 202 429 3902

James D. Barnette is a partner in Steptoe's Washington office, where he is a member of the Government Affairs & Public Policy Group.  He focuses his practice on energy, telecommunications, healthcare, consumer protection, environmental law, and congressional oversight and investigations related to those laws.

Mr. Barnette has the unique distinction of serving as General Counsel for the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce under all four Republican Chairmen (Fred Upton (R-MI), Joe Barton (R-TX), Billy Tauzin (R-LA), and Tom Bliley (R-VA) since 1994.  In that capacity, he helped enact over 100 public laws, including the landmark Medicare Modernization Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and legislation in areas as diverse as bioterrorism preparedness, energy, telecommunications reform, consumer protection, and e-commerce.  In 2011, he served as a principal advisor to Chairman Upton on healthcare, Clean Air Act legislation, major telecommunications reforms, and Internet policy.

Mr. Barnette devotes a significant amount of his time to political matters.

On Capitol Hill he served in the following roles:

  • Principal advocate for the Committee’s position with the Senate, House leadership, House Parliamentarian and other House Committees (including Agriculture, Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget, Judiciary, and Ways and Means)
  • Led numerous high-profile Committee oversight and investigation efforts across its jurisdiction including energy, healthcare, environmental, and telecommunications matters 

Representative Matters

  • Provide day-to-day counsel to trade associations and Fortune 500 companies with interests in energy, telecommunications, Internet policy, financial services, and healthcare regarding legislative activity on Capitol Hill
  • Serve as lead counsel for two major trade associations in connection with climate change legislation and regulation
  • Represent domestic and international clients that are the subject of formal Congressional and Executive Branch investigations in a variety of business sectors
  • Counseled an international pharmaceutical firm seeking policy relief under trade and patent law
  • Formed a major alliance of telecommunications providers whose businesses largely depended on the outcome of legislation pending on Capitol Hill
  • Provided legislative counsel and advocacy for a disease community that resulted in the enactment of a $1 billion authorization bill
  • Represented a start-up biotech company in navigating Washington to ensure adequate attention to its groundbreaking product


  • The Legal 500 US, Government: Government Relations, 2016
  • Chairman, Steptoe & Johnson Political Action Committee, 2007–2011
  • “The Hill People,” National Journal, 2003, 2011
  • Featured in the Almanac of the Unelected, 1996-1997, 2003-2004, 2011
  • Legislative Assistant to US Senator Arlen Specter, 1985-1987

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