Mac Thornberry

Mac Thornberry


Thornberry's Red River bill passes the House


The “Red River Gradient Boundary Survey Act,” H.R. 428, introduced by U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon), today passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 250-171. The bill establishes a fair and balanced process to conduct an accurate survey of contested land along the Red River to find the proper boundary between public and private ownership.

“This bill essentially requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to do what they should have done all along. Its passage in the House is an important step toward providing these landowners with the legal certainty they deserve. I hope we can use this momentum to get the bill passed in the Senate and then signed into law by the President,” Thornberry said. “I will continue working with the landowners, local and state officials, and Senator Cornyn (R-TX) until this issue is resolved once and for all.” 

For nearly a century, the BLM has failed to survey a small strip of federal land along the entire 116-mile stretch of the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas. The BLM has never actively managed the small strip of federal land, and its own estimates of how much they own have varied widely over the years.  

As a result, private landowners along the River are now unsure whether the land that they have held titles to and have paid taxes on, in some cases for generations, will remain in their families or be confiscated by the federal government. Since concern first arose in December 2013, Thornberry’s office has held multiple meetings, phone calls, and other correspondence with landowners, as well as local and state officials, to coordinate action.

The legislation will provide legal certainty to property owners along the Red River by:

• Commissioning a survey of the entire 116-mile stretch of contested area along the Red River using the gradient boundary survey method developed and backed by the Supreme Court to find the proper ownership boundary between public and private land.  

• Ordering that the survey be conducted by licensed and qualified surveyors chosen by Texas and Oklahoma.

• Providing states the authority to oversee the surveyors and approve the final survey to ensure the Supreme Court instructions are properly followed.

• Requiring that a notice of survey approval, a copy of the survey, and any related field notes be provided to each individual land owner after the survey is completed.

• Ensuring that nothing in the bill alters the Red River Boundary Compact, modifies the interests of the states, or harms the rights of the impacted federally recognized Indian Tribes.

You can download video interview footage for news purposes by clicking here.

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Thornberry, House continue regulatory reform effort


U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted in support of the “Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017,” H.R. 5, which combines six previously passed or introduced House bills that will reform the federal regulatory system. The bill passed the House by a vote of 238-183.

“People are sick and tired of regulations that hurt jobs and our economy, and Congressional Republicans made repealing or correcting burdensome regulations the first item on our agenda. The provisions in this bill will make the regulatory process more transparent, federal agencies more accountable, and the regulations they produce less costly,” Thornberry said.

The legislation is the second major bill dealing with regulations to pass the House in the 115th Congress, and Thornberry said the House will continue to focus on this issue as the year progresses. As a part of that effort, he has sent a letter to local Chambers of Commerce asking them to gather information on the most burdensome regulations their businesses face.

“Business owners understand better than anyone how harmful some of these regulations can be because they are the people who have to comply with them. Their feedback will help me and others in Congress direct our efforts where they will make the most difference,” said Thornberry.

H.R. 5 includes the following provisions:

Title I – “Regulatory Accountability Act,” which requires agencies to choose the lowest-cost rulemaking alternative that meets objectives and requires greater opportunity for public input and vetting of critical information;

Title II – “Separation of Powers Restoration Act,” which would rein in the Executive Branch by scaling back Chevron-based deference to federal agencies, by requiring de novo review of agency actions for all relevant questions of law, including Constitutional and statutory interpretation. It would place judicial review back in the hands of the Judiciary, and make clear the lines between judicial interpretation of law and executive enforcement of the law;

Title III – “Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act,” which would expand the Regulatory Flexibility Act requiring regulatory agencies to account for the effect on small businesses in their rulemaking. It would require agencies to include the indirect effects of regulations on small businesses, not just the direct impact. It would also require agencies to have a small business advocacy panel to review major regulations;

Title IV – “REVIEW Act,” which would prohibit new billion-dollar rules from taking effect until courts can resolve timely-filed litigation challenging their promulgation;

Title V – “ALERT Act,” which would require agencies to provide detailed disclosures on regulations; and

Title VI – “Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act,” which would require each agency to include a 100-word, plain-language summary of a proposed rule when providing notice of a rulemaking. Read More

Thornberry, Cornyn introduce bills to advance resolution of Red River land dispute


U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced legislation today in the U.S. House and Senate to protect private property rights along the Red River from federal ownership claims. By providing legal certainty to landowners, the “Red River Gradient Boundary Survey Act” seeks to end questions about the federal government's ownership of disputed land along the Red River. 

“Private property owners should never have to worry about the federal government coming in and taking away their land, especially land that has never been properly surveyed. Our bills will help provide these property owners the certainty that they deserve to know where public lands end and private lands begin,” Thornberry said. 

Many landowners and other public officials are alarmed that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) actions might result in disputed claims of ownership. Since concern first arose in December 2013, Thornberry’s and Cornyn’s offices have held multiple meetings, phone calls, and other correspondence with landowners, as well as local and state officials, to coordinate action. 

“With a long overdue survey of the land in question, this bill can finally end the baseless claims the federal government has made over privately owned property along the Red River,” said Sen. Cornyn. “Texas families who have lived along the river for generations deserve to know they’re protected from a federal land grab, and this bill is a critical first step towards providing these folks certainty.”

The legislation they introduced this week has been adjusted from the bills they introduced in the previous two sessions of Congress. In 2015, a previous version of the bill passed the House of Representatives 253-177. The new legislation reflects the input they received by listening to landowners, the Texas General Land Office, and many others. 

Thornberry and Cornyn have been pressing the case with BLM locally and with the agency’s leadership in Washington. In 2013, 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. But the majority of the contested river has never been properly surveyed by the BLM. The stretch of land is located in Wilbarger, Wichita, and Clay counties.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) are original cosponsors of the legislation.

The legislation will provide legal certainty to property owners along the Red River by:

• Commissioning a survey of the majority of the 116-mile stretch of contested area along the Red River using the gradient boundary survey method developed and backed by the Supreme Court to find the proper ownership boundary between public and private land.  

• Ordering that the survey be conducted by licensed and qualified surveyors chosen by Texas and Oklahoma.

• Providing states the authority to oversee the surveyors and approve the final survey to ensure the Supreme Court instructions are properly followed.

• Requiring that a notice of survey approval, a copy of the survey, and any related field notes be provided to each individual land owner after the survey is completed.

• Ensuring that nothing in the bill alters the Red River Boundary Compact, modifies the interests of the states, or harms the rights of the impacted federally recognized Indian Tribes. 

You can download video interview footage for news purposes by clicking here.

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Thornberry introduces the 'Death Tax Repeal Act'


U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) introduced his first bill of the 115th Congress. The “Death Tax Repeal Act,” H.R. 198, will completely and permanently repeal the federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes. The bill already has garnered 44 cosponsors.

“This simple, two-page bill would permanently and fully eliminate the death tax, which undermines one of America’s most important means of capital formation: building a family enterprise,” said Thornberry. “Death should never be a taxable event. All Americans should be able to work hard, build, and save knowing that they can pass on what they have earned to their children and grandchildren.”

The death tax, also known as the inheritance tax or estate tax, requires families to turn over portions of an inheritance to the government. Small business owners, farmers, and ranchers are often particularly vulnerable to this tax, making it more difficult for future generations to build upon their family’s hard work.

A 2015 report from the Tax Foundation estimated that repealing the death tax would grow the economy by $137 billion or a 0.8 percent growth in gross domestic product. Additionally, that report estimated that approximately 150,000 additional jobs would be created in the decade after elimination.

Thornberry has introduced or cosponsored a bill to repeal the death tax consistently while serving in Congress. The House passed a similar measure in 2015, and with tax reform as a major priority for the new Congress and the new Administration, the prospects for a full death tax repeal are better than they have been in several years.

Among the groups most commonly associated with this effort are the National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau Federation, Independent Community Bankers of America, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Homebuilders, and National Pork Producers Council. But it is important to note the support from the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Small Business Association, Public Lands Council, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and the Hispanic Leadership Fund. Read More

Lake Kemp provision passes U.S. Congress


Congress has passed the “Water Resources Development Act of 2016,” H.R. 5303, which includes an amendment introduced by U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) that will prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from forcing the City of Wichita Falls to destroy nearly 150 Lake Kemp cabins before 2025.

The issue stems from an agreement in the 1960s between the Corps, Wichita Falls, and other stakeholders when the Lake Kemp dam and spillway was reconstructed. That agreement required the city to demolish all of the privately owned cabins at Lake Kemp that were below 1,159-feet mean sea level (MSL) out of concern that they might flood. The agreement has been modified to prevent the demolition several times, most recently in 2007 when it was extended through January 1, 2020.

“This five-year extension protects the rights of the cabin owners and the private property rights of the current owner of the Waggoner Estate, while allowing the city and those stakeholders more time to resolve this issue,” Thornberry said.

To date, none of the cabins at the lake below the 1,159 MSL have flooded. The highest pool of record at Lake Kemp was 1,150-feet MSL in August of 1995. Lake Kemp functions as a recreational and flood control facility that also supplies municipal water. The land surrounding Lake Kemp is part of the historic privately owned Waggoner Estate Ranch that was recently purchased by Mr. Stan Kroenke of Kroenke Sports Enterprises. 

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Thornberry's defense bill passes the House


The U.S. House of Representatives passed the annual defense policy bill that authorizes spending for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs, and foreign military operations by a vote of 375 to 34. This is the second National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to be passed under U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry’s (R-Clarendon) chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee.

“Above all else, this bill is focused on supporting the men and women who keep our nation safe. It provides them the full pay raise to which they are entitled by law, it improves their health care system, it ensures they receive the equipment and training they need to do their jobs, and much more,” Thornberry said. “It also makes a clear statement to our friends and adversaries across the world that the United States will have the means to defend itself, and it begins to reassure the men and women who serve our nation that whatever they are asked to do, they will be prepared and supported fully.”

The bill authorizes nearly $619 billion in spending for national defense, which is $3.2 billion more than requested by the President. It also includes the largest pay increase for service members in six years at 2.1 percent. President Obama attempted to reduce it to a 1.6 percent raise.

This year’s NDAA not only stops the damaging cuts to our military’s size, it begins to make it stronger. It starts to stabilize the readiness problems that are making it more difficult for our troops to accomplish their mission and increasingly represents a danger to the lives. It contains landmark reforms to improve our military’s strength and agility.

Locally, the bill authorizes funding for national security facilities and programs such as training missions at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, including $91.9 million in construction projects. In addition, about $1.66 billion total is authorized for Bell’s V-22 Osprey and helicopter programs, including the procurement of 16 new Ospreys and 24 new AH-1Z / UH-1Y helicopters for the Marine Corps. Much of the work for those aircraft will be performed in Amarillo.

It provides $9.4 billion in funding for nuclear weapons activities—including those performed at Pantex—which is a $186 million increase to the budget request. This includes full funding for the critically important production work at Pantex for the W76 life extension program. To help address the severe backlog of maintenance on physical infrastructure across the National Nuclear Security Administration, the bill provides $106 million for recapitalization projects and preventative maintenance. The bill also includes $730 million for defense nuclear security, an increase of $60 million to the budget request, to recapitalize aging physical security equipment located at Pantex and Y-12.

The NDAA improves access to quality care for service members, retirees, and their families, while enhancing medical readiness. Reforms ensure that the generous benefit our troops deserve and have earned is sustainable for generations to come. These reforms make no changes for the current force or retirees.

Other highlights include:

  • Military Personnel and Pay: The bill supports a 2.1 percent pay raise for service members.
  • BRAC: Prohibits another round of base closings.
  • Commissaries: Reforms the commissary system to preserve the benefit, while also making improvements to ensure continued saving for shoppers.
  • Strengthens Military: Reverses cuts to troop strength; increases investments in training and maintenance programs; and rebuilds crumbling facilities like barracks, hangars, and airfields.
  • Deterring Russia: Provides funds for more troops and equipment in Europe to deter Russia, as well as additional funds to assist Ukraine.
  • Fighting ISIS: Provides funds to train and equip Syrian fighters and assist Iraqis in re-taking Mosul, and adds funds to make sure that Kurdish and Sunni allies are able to stay in the fight.

A more detailed summary of the bill can be found here.

You can download video interview footage for news purposes by clicking here

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Thornberry votes for sweeping health reform and research bill


U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted in support of the “21stCentury Cures Act,” H.R. 34, which will speed up the approval of life-saving medical drugs, increase funding for disease and cancer research, for the advancement of medical devices and drugs, for opioid prevention and treatment programs, and for mental health research and treatment. The bill passed the House Wednesday evening by a bipartisan vote of 392-26.

“This bill is going to do a great deal to help millions of Americans and their families who are living with the devastating effects of cancer, diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes, drug addiction, and mental health issues,” said Thornberry. “This is a patient-focused, fiscally responsible bill that will help advance our medical research, increase the availability of effective medical treatment, and accelerate the development of life-saving medical technologies and drugs.”

The legislation will dedicate $5.3 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). It will also reduce the deficit by $5.81 billion through 2026. Among other provisions the funding will be used to:

  • Advance the Precision Medicine Initiative to drive research into the genetic, lifestyle and environmental variations of disease;
  • Bolster the "Cancer Moonshot” to speed up cancer research;
  • Invest in the BRAIN initiative to improve our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer's;
  • Spur the development of health software and mobile medical apps, vaccines, and regenerative medicine therapies;
  • Modernize clinical trials to expedite the review of critical drugs; and
  • Help the FDA recruit and retain the best and brightest scientists, doctors, and engineers.

“This bill also represents the most significant reform to our mental health system in more than a decade, and it provides $1 billion in grants to the states to fight the opioid epidemic. These are two areas that we have a great deal of work to do as a nation,” Thornberry said.

The legislation is supported by Association of American Cancer Institutes, American Association for Cancer Research, American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, Association of American Medical Colleges, American Heart Association, American Psychiatric Association, Epilepsy Foundation, Infectious Diseases Society of America, National Organization for Rare Disorders, and many other organizations.

You can access a fact sheet with more information about the Cures Act here.

You can download video interview footage for news purposes by clicking here.

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Thornberry statement commemorating 75th anniversary of Sheppard Air Force Base


U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) issued the following statement to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Sheppard Air Force Base:

“For 75 years, Sheppard Air Force Base has played an important role in our national defense. In one key area, technical training, it has produced more graduates than any other institution in the Air Force. 
“Key to Sheppard’s success over the last three-quarters of a century has been the unquantified support of the people and communities in the North Texas region. While impossible to quantify, the patriotism, pride, and willingness to pitch in to do whatever the base needed has been invaluable. And the men and women of Sheppard have returned the favor by being good neighbors and contributing to worthy causes throughout the area.

“Today, it remains at the forefront of American national security – providing essential skills to Air Force and other military personnel and helping build the trust and familiarity necessary for international coalitions to fight effectively together. 

“The future for Sheppard is brighter than ever. As long as freedom must be defended, it will have a role to play, and it will fulfill its missions with the patriotism, excellence, and commitment it has shown in its proud past.”

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Thornberry welcomes North Texas veterans to Washington


More than 140 North Texas veterans, family members, and volunteers traveled to Washington this week to tour Congress and the memorials that commemorate their service and sacrifice. U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) hosted the group today for a special tour of the Capitol where he had the opportunity to speak to them on the Floor of the House.

"Sally, the staff, and I are privileged to welcome the Honor Flight to the U.S. Capitol again this year. Each veteran has a special story to tell, and we enjoy hearing all of them," said Thornberry. "It is a wonderful reminder of the unique contribution our part of Texas had made — and continues to make — to defending our freedom and keeping our country safe."

Texas Panhandle Honor Flight is a non-profit organization headquartered in Amarillo. The Honor Flights are part of the organization’s efforts to promote awareness and support for our U.S. military service members and veterans, as well as their families. The group also organizes care boxes for active duty personnel, sponsors an annual Armed Forces Day banquet, and organizes welcome home and return to duty rallies.

"Thank you to Texas Panhandle Honor Flight, which organizes these trips, all the family members, and the volunteers that make it happen. And thank you to all of our veterans past and present who have served our nation," Thornberry said.

Honor Flight is a national program that began a decade ago as a project to offer World War II veterans all-expenses-paid overnight trips to Washington, D.C., to see the National World War II Memorial. Today, these flights honor America’s veterans by paying for and transporting groups of veterans from all over the country to see the memorials designed and erected to honor their service. 

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Thornberry votes for VA accountability


U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted in support of a bill that would improve accountability measures and whistleblower protections at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The “VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016,” H.R. 5620, passed the House by a vote of 310-116.
“When our veterans turn to the VA for health care, they deserve to know they will receive the best service possible, and the majority of VA employees work hard to provide that type of care,” Thornberry said. “If the Secretary does not have all of the tools necessary to hold people accountable and actually use them, it is a disservice to the good employees, the American taxpayers, and most importantly, our veterans.”
H.R. 5620 gives the Secretary of the VA more authority to remove employees for poor performance or misconduct, recoup bonuses or performance awards from employees when appropriate, increase whistleblower protections, and reform the appeals process for veteran benefit claims.
“Over the past several years, Congress has passed a number of reform bills to address many of the serious problems throughout the VA system, and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure we are upholding our sacred commitment to these men and women who have sacrificed so much for us,” said Thornberry.

You can download video interview footage for news purposes by clicking here.

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Committee Assignments

Armed Services

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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Bill Flores


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Lamar Smith


Pete Olson


Will Hurd


Kenny Marchant


Roger Williams


Michael Burgess


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John Carter


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