The President has signed in to law legislation that included a provision that makes the excise tax on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and diesel comparable on an energy-equivalent basis. The provision was introduced earlier this year by U.S. Congressmen Mac Thornberry (TX-13) and John Larson (CT-01) as the “LNG Excise Tax Equalization Act of 2015,” H.R. 905.The federal excise tax on LNG and diesel has been set at 24.3 cents per gallon. Because it takes 1.7 gallons of LNG to produce the same amount of energy as a gallon of diesel fuel, LNG is being taxed 70 percent higher than diesel. The new law that will take effect in 2016 levels the playing field by applying the excise tax to LNG and diesel based on the amount of energy each produces, which is how it is applied to Compressed Natural Gas and gasoline.
U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that will help law enforcement officials combat the growing problem of synthetic drugs. The “SALTS Act,” H.R. 1186, would make it easier for law enforcement officials to take action against synthetic drug manufacturers, distributors, and sellers by closing a loophole that makes it difficult to prosecute them because they label packages as “not intended for human consumption.”
Current law allows the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to prosecute the sale of drugs similar to controlled substances, but it does not cover substances with that label. Yet, the abusers who purchase these substances all know exactly what to do with them – ingest or snort them to get a dangerous and unpredictable high.
“I have spoken with law enforcement, doctors, and educators from our area about increasing awareness of these synthetic drugs, which really are just poisons,” Thornberry said. “A big part of the problem is that young people and parents are not aware of the serious side effects of these poisons. These drugs invoke dangerous behavior and cause irreparable damage to the health of those who ingest them. I want to make sure our law enforcement agencies can keep up with the changing formulas and take down synthetic drug producers and sellers.”
The bill was crafted with the feedback from local law enforcement and health officials who struggle to contain these drugs. Synthetic drugs – often called “K2,” “spice,” “bath salts,” or “synthetic marijuana” – are laced with man-made chemicals that mimic the effects of THC and amphetamines. The harmful effects of synthetic drugs include violent behavior and health issues that are sometimes fatal. TIME magazine featured the story of Ms. Roni Cannon, an Amarillo resident whose son died after ingesting K2 in 2013. In 2015, almost 5,000 exposures to synthetic drugs have been reported to poison control centers. That number has nearly doubled in the past year.### Read More
U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) released the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule on regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants:
“We have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment, but that doesn’t mean that the federal government should be burdening the States with regulations that ultimately hurt consumers by driving up energy prices and threatening the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.
“According to a study by IHS Energy, this latest regulatory overreach by the administration could lead to roughly one million fewer jobs in America and decrease the typical household’s annual disposable income by around $2,100, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates Texans may pay an additional $1.4 to $1.6 billion for electricity each year because of it.
“Energy producers in our state have found responsible and commonsense ways to produce more energy from many sources. In fact, Texas reduced its energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by nine percent in the first decade of this century without any unnecessary prodding and poking from bureaucrats in President Obama’s EPA.
“During that same period of time, we have seen an economic boom thanks to our energy sector, and our state has provided a model for what our national energy policies should look like. Instead of over-regulating and over-taxing, Texas has fostered a pro-growth economic environment. The federal government should be doing everything it can to replicate what Texas has done.“I recently voted for and the House passed legislation that would stop this EPA regulation. H.R. 2042, the 'Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015,' would delay the compliance date of greenhouse gas emission standards for existing power plants until all judicial and administrative reviews are final and no longer eligible for appeal. The bill would also allow states to opt out of compliance if the governor determines that the rule would have an adverse effect on rate-payers or have a significant adverse effect on the reliability of the state's electricity system."
U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted yesterday in support of a bill that included a provision to fill shortfalls in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) budget and make significant changes to the Choice Program. The “Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015,” H.R. 3236, passed the House by a vote of 385-34.
Hospital operations were at risk unless the VA was authorized to transfer funds to pay for non-VA care from the Choice Program, which is underutilized due to its restrictive eligibility criteria. Specifically, the provision authorizes the VA to use $3.35 billion from the Choice Program to pay for non-VA care from May 1 to Oct. 1, 2015, and requires reports every 14 days on how these funds are used and for what programs.
“This bill provides the VA flexibility to move funds that will ensure that facilities remain open, as well as improve access to quality care,” said Thornberry. “These men and women have put their lives on the line to keep our country safe, and they deserve our best in return. Meeting our commitments to our veterans is essential.”
In addition to authorizing these funds, the provision would expand veterans' access to the current Choice Program and require the VA to devise a plan consolidating all non-VA provider programs into a single "Veterans Choice Program." Consolidating the non-VA programs would simplify the eligibility requirements, authorization processes, billing and reimbursement, and access to VA medical records.
The bill would expand the Choice Program by:
This bill also amends the tax code to exclude any employee with TRICARE or VA healthcare from the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.### Read More
“People who believe the world is safer, that we can do with less defense spending and 40,000 fewer Soldiers, will take this as good news. I am not one of those people.”
Planned reductions in Army force levels have been public for some time and are a result of hundreds of billions of dollars in defense cuts since President Obama took office. During this time, Army end strength has been reduced from 556,000 to this new low of 450,000. Personnel reductions are one of the few places where the military can achieve the savings mandated by defense cuts in the time required. The House Armed Services Committee has consistently warned about the size and pace of reductions in both end strength and defense spending and the negative impact on the country’s national security.
U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) introduced the Federal Regulatory Certainty for Water Act, H.R. 2705, to clarify the definition of “navigable waters” in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to help protect private property owners from regulatory expansion by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).“Those who live and work in our part of Texas, especially the farmers and ranchers, understand the importance of clean water and work hard to be good stewards of the environment, but we also understand that personal property and water rights are fundamental to the American way of life, a family’s business, and many people’s livelihoods,” said Thornberry.
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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’s wife, Sally, is also a native Texan. They have two children.
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