Mac Thornberry

Mac Thornberry


Thornberry Statement on the President's Speech


Congressman Mac Thornberry, Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement in response to the President's address to the nation yesterday evening:

“The President’s speech certainly had a different tone than his previous statements.  It remains to be seen whether he has had a true change of heart or whether he is simply reacting to the polls.

"I believe the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a significant threat to the safety of Americans and to the security of the United States.  Failing to take action will allow this danger to grow.

"We are left with few good options in a very complex situation.  Helping develop more capable ground forces in the region and supporting them with American airpower and intelligence makes sense.  But it will take more than a speech and a few bombs to defeat this powerful terrorist threat.

"In addition, the President has not yet provided a global strategy for dealing with terrorism.  ISIL is not the only terrorist organization aiming to attack the United States.  The potential for attacks from home-grown, self-radicalized individuals here in America also exists.  The country needs a broader plan to protect Americans from a threat that is in many ways more serious today than on 9/11 thirteen years ago." Read More

Thornberry Halts EPA Regulatory Overreach


As part of the ongoing effort to halt EPA regulatory overreach, the House passed a bill today that would prevent the agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from greatly expanding federal jurisdiction and waters covered under the Clean Water Act.  Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) is an original co-sponsor of the measure aimed at protecting farmers, ranchers, businesses, and landowners from further federal restrictions on their private property.  “The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078)" was approved by a bipartisan vote of 262 to 152.

“Personal property and water rights are fundamental to the American way of life, a family’s business, and many people’s livelihoods,” said Thornberry.  “No landowner should have to worry whether the federal government will get in the way of their business because of the bar ditch behind their house.  That is why our bill to restrict the power of the EPA and ensure a transparent regulatory process is so important,” he continued.

In March 2014, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposed a rule that would expand regulation of the agriculture community, businesses, and other landowners under the Clean Water Act.  According to the rule, only 56 specified activities would receive exemption from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act, leaving in question the status of all other activities being subject to further EPA regulation.  Many of the activities in question are normal functions of daily farming and ranching routines.  In order to protect business, H.R. 5078 would invalidate the rule as well as prohibit the EPA from exerting more federal control over waters in the United States.  

The bill also requires the EPA and the Corps to seek state and local officials’ recommendations in developing regulatory proposals in the future.  The Secretary of the Army and Administrator of the EPA must submit a report to Congress defining the waters under federal and state jurisdiction, according to the recommendations from state and local officials.  

Concerned that the federal government and the EPA was getting more and more aggressive in its attempts to expand its authority, Congressman Thornberry has been working on a number of measures to restrict federal overreach.  In 2013, he introduced a bill (H.R. 3377) to explicitly clarify that the waters subject to federal control must be in fact “navigable,” i.e. a river, ocean, or lake.  The bill also prohibited the EPA and Corps from defining what is “navigable water” without Congressional authorization and protected the rights of states to have the primary authority over the land within their borders.   The bill already has more than 30 co-sponsors in the House.  Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a Senate version of the bill in May 2013. Read More

COLUMN: School Lunch Regulations Replacing Parents


A new school year is just around the corner.  Now part of what school districts, administrators, and teachers are preparing for is far-reaching federal food mandates.  Most of us have mixed memories of the food we ate in the school cafeteria.  Some of it was more to our liking than others as the school tried to balance cost, convenience, nutrition, and tastiness.  (I confess that I never ate the lima beans).

Few disagree with the importance of people of all ages trying to eat a healthy, balanced diet.  But recent school lunch regulations being handed down from Washington are attempting to take those closest to the kids – families and local school districts – out of the equation.  In yet another demonstration of the Administration's Washington-knows-best mentality, these regulations are harming those they were intended to help – our children.

The National School Lunch Program was created in 1946, partly to provide a market for agricultural commodities.  It is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  In 2010, a new law championed by First Lady Michelle Obama set new restrictions on what food could be served in schools.  These restrictions prohibit food above a certain sodium, sugar, and fat content; mandate the amount of fruits and vegetables served; and cap the number of calories a kid can consume.

The School Nutrition Association says that since the new standards took effect in 2012, about a million students have stopped eating the lunches and that many of the students who still participate do not eat much of the food, throwing it away.  That is supported by what our schools see every day. 

“Even our children who know there may not be much food at home throw away more than they eat,” one of our area’s school superintendents told my office.  “The food is not what they are used to at home.”  But the food that the students will not eat costs the school more.  Meeting the new regulations resulted in this particular school exceeding its food budget by $30,000.  Those extra costs come from taxpayers or from cuts to other school programs.

I also hear from teachers and administrators that students are sometimes having trouble concentrating in class and maintaining strength during afternoon athletics because they are simply not getting enough to eat during the day.   There are major educational and health consequences at stake.

Several House Republicans are pushing for a provision to give schools at least a year’s reprieve from the new standards.  We hope this provision will be voted on at some point this year.  Of course, it would be better to repeal them altogether, but this measure would give at least some relief to school districts and to students who are bearing the burden of these one-size-fits-all mandates.

These regulations are failing to provide better nutrition for our students, placing unnecessary financial strain on our schools, and allowing folks who have no clue about kids in our area to make decisions better left at home.

Clearly, Washington’s top-down, nanny-state approach is a recipe that needs to be re-written.  And common sense should be a key ingredient. 

Read More

Thornberry Acts on Border Crisis


Late this evening, the House passed two bills to deal with the urgent crisis on the border.  Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted in favor of both H.R. 5230, which increases border security and requires the prompt return of minors to their home countries, and H.R. 5272, which prohibits any expansion of the President's "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)."
“We have taken important and necessary steps to deal with this crisis,” says Thornberry.  “The key to fixing the problem is to return the children to their home countries immediately.  We must also stop deferred action on deportations and close loopholes in well-intentioned human trafficking laws.  These bills provide the means to do this and better secure our borders both now and in the future.”
In recent months, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have flooded the U.S. southern border from Central America, particularly Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.  The massive influx of children has caused a major national security and humanitarian crisis for the country, especially for border states like Texas.
House bill H.R. 5230 addresses this crisis in the following ways:

     -  It provides $35 million for states to be reimbursed for deploying the National Guard, including Texas.
     -  It increases funds for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol operations necessary to apprehend, transport, and provide temporary shelter to unaccompanied minors.
     -  It expedites legal proceedings for migrants and increases deportation personnel for transportation and removal operations.
     -  It requires an immigration judge to conduct a hearing within seven days of apprehension.
     -  It prohibits any federal action on land that impedes border security.
     -  It changes the 2008 immigration law to ensure minors from contiguous (Canada and Mexico) and noncontiguous (Central America) countries are treated the same.  Therefore, any minor entering the U.S. illegally can be immediately returned without a mandated court hearing.
     -  It restricts the placement of unaccompanied minors at military installations if doing so would displace members of the Armed Forces or interfere with military activities.

In addition, H.R. 5272 prohibits the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as well as the issuance of DACA status to those who may qualify under current guidelines.  On June 15, 2012, President Obama unilaterally implemented DACA to provide deferred deportation to individuals who immigrated here illegally as children.  H.R. 5272 freezes DACA as of July 30, 2014, to prohibit federal funds or resources to newly authorize deferred action for any class of illegal immigrants.  It also prevents the authorization of work permits for individuals not lawfully present in the United States.
“Our nation must be able to control who and what comes across its borders," said Rep. Thornberry.  "The Senate should return to Washington and pass these bills immediately.  The safety of these kids and our country is at stake.” Read More

Thornberry Reining in Executive Overreach and Upholding the Constitution


Yesterday, the House passed a measure authorizing legal action to restrain the President from taking actions that exceed his authority under the Constitution.  Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted in favor of the passage.  The vote was 225 to 201.

"The President wants to make this about politics, but it is really about upholding our Constitution and the rule of law," says Thornberry.  "All of us must live under the laws of the United States.  Not even a president can ignore or violate them."

While there are numerous instances where President Obama has ignored or altered federal law without the authority to do so, the case is expected to focus on two instances where the President altered the Obamacare health care law. Read More

Thornberry pushes for more transparency in the Endangered Species Act


Area Congressman Mac Thornberry voted on Tuesday to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to increase transparency and ensure the listings of species are both accurate and reasonable.

"ESA listings drastically affect our landowners, farmers, ranchers, and small business owners, and they all deserve to know the facts," says Rep. Thornberry.  "As we saw earlier this year with the listing of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as threatened, the listing process under the Endangered Species Act is severely flawed, misused, and often manipulated behind closed doors.  This bill helps to correct these issues by requiring increased transparency in decision-making and ensuring our states, counties, and the people these decisions affect get a voice."

According to current law, the decision to list a species as "endangered" or "threatened" must be based on the best available scientific data.  However, these ESA listings are often based on professional opinions rather than actual data - opinions typically not made known to the public.  In addition to this lack of transparency, the number of listing petitions has skyrocketed over the past several years.  Decisions are being made behind closed doors based on sue-and-settle tactics and on questionable data.

To correct this problem, H.R. 4315, the "Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act," changes the Endangered Species Act to require public disclosure of the data used to determine the listings of species.  Specifically, the bill requires:

     - The Secretary of the Interior to publicize data used to make ESA listing decisions on the Internet;
     - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to provide states, tribes, and local governments with the data used to formulate a listing decision before the final decision is made;
     - The Secretary of Interior to submit a report annually outlining the federal government's expenditures for covered lawsuits along with a description of each suit;
     - Attorney fees to be capped at $125 per hour for any suit filed under the Endangered Species Act.  This same cap applies to claims under the Equal Access to Justice Act where small businesses, veterans, and benefit recipients may sue and recover fees from the government.  Currently, the ESA fees range between $400-$700 on the taxpayer's dime.  Therefore, this cap protects the taxpayer from unnecessary expenses.
Read More

Getting Veterans the Health Care They Were Promised


Calling it an important step toward getting veterans the health care they were promised and toward cleaning up the Washington bureaucracy, Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) supported the House passage of the “Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230).”  Thornberry, who serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, voted in favor of the bill, which is expected to pass the Senate later this week.

“Meeting our commitments to our veterans is essential,” says Thornberry.  “These men and women have put their lives on the line to keep our country safe, and they deserve our best in return.  This bill enables our veterans to seek care from non-VA facilities if they cannot get an appointment at the VA within 30 days or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility.  And, it provides the necessary funding for the VA to cover these costs as well as improve access, accountability, and quality care at existing VA facilities.”  

Reports of extended treatment delays, falsified wait times, and preventable deaths point to severe mismanagement and lack of accountability across the VA system.  In response to the allegations, the VA Office of Inspector General began a review of over one hundred VA medical facilities and criminal investigations are now ongoing.  

To address these serious deficiencies within the system, the House and Senate joined together to develop a Conference Report which outlines a number of changes to the system to ensure veterans have timely access to care and to increase accountability across the Department.  

H.R. 3230 Highlights Included Below:

     -  Requires the VA to offer non-VA medical care to any veteran who is enrolled in the VA as of August 1, 2014, or who is a newly discharged combat veteran if such veteran is unable to secure an appointment at a VA facility within 30 days or lives more than 40 miles away from the nearest facility;

     -  Provides $10 billion for the “Veterans Choice Fund” to cover the costs of increased access to non-VA care.  The VA will provide veterans a Veterans Choice Card to facilitate non-VA care payment.

     -  Requires an independent assessment of VA medical care to continually evaluate the quality of care;

     -  Provides $5 billion to the VA to improve VA’s physical infrastructure and hire more quality physicians and medical staff;

     -  Authorizes 27 major medical facility leases in 18 states and Puerto Rico;

     -  Authorizes the VA to fire or demote Senior Executive Service (SES) employees for poor performance or misconduct;

     -  Reduces funding for bonuses available to VA employees by $40 million each year through FY2024;

     -  Requires public universities to provide veterans and eligible dependents with in-state tuition.

Next, the bill is expected to pass the Senate and will then head to the President’s desk for final approval.

“I applaud the House’s passage and urge the Senate and the President to do the same.  Our veterans have waited long enough.” Read More

Thornberry Testifies on behalf of Red River Landowners


The land dispute between the federal government and Texans who live along the Red River was the subject of a hearing in the U.S. House today as the Resources Committee explored the “Red River Private Property Protection Act (H.R. 4979)," introduced by area Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon).

“I think the bill was well-received, and I appreciated the chance to explain it to the Committee and answer whatever questions they had,” said Thornberry. “The BLM stated once again that they wanted to work with us, and I am certainly open to making specific improvements in the legislation to ensure certainty to local landowners.  I will continue to push it forward in the process,” he continued.

Thornberry presented his bill to the Committee and testified about how it would resolve the land dispute.  The bill, which was also introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, seeks to settle all federal ownership claims by providing legal certainty to landowners along the Red River.  It directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to relinquish and transfer quit claim deeds to landowners who can prove ownership through official State and county records.  It also prevents the BLM from including any privately owned acres in a current or future Resource Management Plan.  
Pat Canan, a Wichita County landowner and Captain Game Warden at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, testified at the hearing.  Canan, whose land lies along the disputed area, said, “I am concerned about private property rights and I think this legislation is a good start to getting things back to the way they need to be.  The hearing went well and I feel good about it.”  

Concern arose last December when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it was beginning the process to revise its Resource Management Plan (RMP) for lands it manages.   At the time, the agency said there are thousands of acres along the Red River on the border between Texas and Oklahoma that may be considered public domain.  The stretch of land is located in Wilbarger, Wichita, and Clay counties.

“Certainty for local landowners is critical.  Perhaps an even bigger point in our efforts is providing protection for private property against government overreach, which seems to be happening more and more.  This bill sends the signal that the House is going to fight this federal intrusion every step of the way,” Thornberry said. Read More

Thornberry announces House Hearing on his bill to protect landowners


Congress is taking a closer look at the Red River land dispute.  Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) announced that a hearing will be held next Tuesday at 10:00a.m. EDT to discuss his legislation to protect private property along the Red River. 
“This hearing is one more step forward, and a very important one, in our efforts to assure landowners that their private property will be protected,” says Thornberry.  “Property owners deserve this certainty, particularly when their livelihoods are at stake.  I look forward to the Committee’s feedback on our proposal.” 

Thornberry’s bill, the “Red River Private Property Protection Act (H.R. 4979)," seeks to settle all federal ownership claims by providing legal certainty to landowners along the Red River.  It directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to relinquish and transfer quit claim deeds to landowners who can prove ownership through official State and county records.  It also prevents the BLM from including any privately owned acres in a current or future Resource Management Plan.  

The legislation will be examined along with eight other bills  that deal with land issues under the House Natural Resources Committee’s jurisdiction.  

As a part of the hearing, the Committee will hear personal testimony from a Texas landowner whose land along the Red River has been called into question.  

Additional information can be found on the House Natural Resources Committee’s website here.  The hearing will also be available for live viewing at this link.       

Read More

Thornberry Statement on Malaysia Airlines Crash


Congressman Mac Thornberry, Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the missile attack against the Malaysia airliner:

“The Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is a terrible tragedy, and the world is watching our response.  Earlier today at the United Nations, the U.S. presented persuasive evidence of Russian involvement in the escalating conflict.  Meanwhile, the President has failed to articulate any plan of action.  In this incident and others, the United States must take steps to strengthen our nation’s defense and demonstrate decisive leadership.  For as we know and have seen, weakness invites aggression.”

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Contact Information

2329 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-3706
Fax 202-225-3486

A fifth generation Texan, Mac Thornberry has strong ties to the people he serves in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mac is a lifelong resident of the 13th District of Texas. His family has been ranching in the area since 1881 – a family business in which Mac remains actively involved.

Mac shares the values of the people he represents and continues to fight for the things that are important to them. He is a longtime advocate of lower taxes and limited government. Boosting domestic energy production, protecting private property rights, and reforming health care are top priorities for Mac. He strongly supports cutting government spending and creating the kind of policies that encourage economic growth, rather than suffocating it.  Additionally, as one of the few Members of Congress personally involved in agriculture, Mac understands the challenges agricultural producers face and has been a key player in efforts to support producers in the 13th District.

Mac has established himself as a leader in national security, an area in which he continues to be given new responsibilities and opportunities to help advance the security of our nation.  He serves as the Vice Chairman of the Armed Services Committee where he also leads the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats, and Capabilities.  He also continues to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
In early 2011, Mac was tapped by the Speaker of the House and Majority Leader to spearhead a Cybersecurity Task Force to guide House legislative action on this growing national security and economic threat. Well-respected by Members on both sides of the aisle for his insight and leadership, they asked Mac to chair a group of lawmakers representing nine major committees of jurisdiction. The charge was to make recommendations in a number of areas including updating existing laws, protecting critical infrastructure, and sharing cybersecurity information. On October 5, 2011, the Task Force released its recommendations, which have received a favorable response from Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate, as well as the White House, private businesses, and other outside organizations.
Mac is also widely respected as an innovator and strategic thinker.  He was one of the first in Congress to recognize the need to confront the threat of terrorism. Six months before the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Mac introduced a bill to create a new Department of Homeland Security, which formed the basis of legislation signed into law by President Bush 20 months later. He has also played a major role in shaping national policy on transformation of the military and strategic nuclear issues. In addition, he is at the forefront of efforts in Congress to protect the country from threats ranging from terrorist attacks to nuclear proliferation.
Born in Clarendon and raised on the family ranch in Donley County, Mac graduated from Clarendon High School before continuing his education at Texas Tech University. After obtaining a B.A. in history from Tech in 1980, he went on to the University of Texas Law School where he graduated in 1983. For the next several years, he worked in Washington, including serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs in the State Department under President Reagan.In 1989, Mac joined his brothers in the cattle business and practiced law in Amarillo.  He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.

Mac’s wife, Sally, is also a native Texan. They have two children.

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