Mac Thornberry

Mac Thornberry


U.S. House votes again to fully repeal Obamacare


Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) made the following comments after the House voted to repeal the President’s health care law:

“Yesterday, I voted again to fully repeal Obamacare. Since taking control of the House in 2011, Republicans have voted more than 50 times to repeal, dismantle, or stop funding for this disastrous law. 

“Many people are seeing higher insurance premiums, and I have personally talked with several doctors who have decided to retire or are considering retirement because of the law. The latest CBO estimate of the cost of Obamacare projects that it will add $1.28 trillion to our national deficit over the next ten years. 

“The costs continue to rise, and more than 27 million people are projected to remain uninsured. I hope the Senate will take up the bill we passed today and send it to President Obama’s desk.”

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Thornberry Op-ed: Putting the death tax to rest


My political life began in a slightly unlikely place: in the pickup with my grandfather in Donley County.  A rancher by heritage and profession, he was always interested in the news and somehow imparted upon me the understanding that decisions being made a long way off affected our daily lives. 
My ears would especially perk up as I would listen to my father and grandfather discuss the impact of the inheritance tax, or death tax, and the dire possibility that we would have to sell part of our land to pay the taxes. 
Even at the age of 12, this seemed fundamentally unfair.  Like most farmers and ranchers in the area, we weren't rich.  The value of our ranch was in the land itself, not sitting in a bank somewhere.
I took it upon myself to write letters to our Senators and Representatives.  There may have been a few chuckles as they read those letters I wrote at a young age, but I think I understood the basic facts.  And, unfortunately, those facts haven’t changed in all these years.
The death tax is still a burden to family farms, ranches, and small businesses.  It still hurts rural economies and still stops one of America’s most important means of capital formation: building a family enterprise.
The importance of my family’s work was never lost on me.  We were and still are a part of the less than one percent of the U.S. population that raises safe and healthy food for people here at home and abroad.  And if what economists say is true, we will need to raise 70 percent more food by 2050. 
That is a challenge the agriculture community here in the 13th District is ready to meet. But unfortunately, it is made more difficult because the federal government continues to stack the cards against us with onerous regulations and fundamentally unfair taxes. 
How can we continue to feed a growing population when, as each generation moves on, a piece of or the whole farm is sold off just to pay the tax bill?  The federal government must stop stripping farmers and ranchers of not only our livelihoods, but our family legacies as well. 
Congress has acted to raise the personal exemption, while President Obama wants to increase taxes on family businesses.  But I believe that the death tax is wrong whether an estate is $100 or $100 million.  You pay taxes when you earn it; you should not have to pay taxes on it again.

On the first day of the new Congress, I introduced a simple, two-page bill that would permanently and fully eliminate the death tax.  I've introduced this bill several times before, and I will continue to push until the tax is eliminated.  Death should never be a taxable event.  The American people should be able to work hard, build, and save knowing that they can pass on what they have earned to their children and grandchildren. Read More

Thornberry Reacts to the 2015 State of the Union


Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) made the following comments after the President's 2015 State of the Union address:

“Tonight, the President had the opportunity to show leadership and promote unity as our nation faces complex challenges both at home and abroad.  Instead, he added to our division. Rather than propose serious solutions to address our nation’s pressing needs, the President chose politics and partisan rhetoric that show very little regard for the overall good of the country.  The President chose to roll out plans for steep tax hikes and so-called “free” community college that he knows will not pass the newly elected Congress.  

“The President said he understands the Commander-in-Chief’s duty to defend the United States of America, but I worry that he refuses to make the tough decisions. One of my gravest concerns is that the President routinely projects weakness and indecision when it comes to international affairs and national security.  This course only instills doubt in our allies and emboldens our enemies.  Our military is capable of adapting to the evolving, complicated threats around the world, but they require stronger leadership.  Congress plays an important role in advancing our intelligence and military capabilities, and the President has the responsibility to see that these advancements are carried out.

“Last year, I said that the country would be better off if the President focused on solving problems rather than scoring political points.  This same sentiment holds true after his address tonight.  Unfortunately, the lack of leadership from the President shows that he is not truly serious about solving real problems.”
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House approves Keystone XL Pipeline


As one of the first major legislative moves in the new Congress, the House passed a bill providing congressional authorization of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Area Congressman Mac Thornberry voted to approve the measure, which passed 266 to 153.
“There are no more excuses to block the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  It is not rocket science; it is common sense.  The House is acting yet again to get the project moving,” said Rep. Thornberry. “The only things standing in the way of building this pipeline, creating thousands of jobs, and gaining greater energy security are President Obama and radical environmentalists.  And that is unacceptable,” he concluded.
The Keystone XL Pipeline would transport Canadian oil sands crude extracted in Alberta, Canada, and crude produced from the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. The project has bipartisan support in the House and Senate. It is also backed by a wide variety of business groups and some labor unions that argue the pipeline will create thousands of jobs, help jumpstart growth, and promote energy independence.
Normally, the U.S. government does not have to approve such pipelines; however, since this pipeline connects the U.S. to Canada, the pipeline needs presidential approval.  
The House has voted several times to authorize the pipeline over the last four years.  But unlike previous attempts, this bill will be sent to a Republican-controlled Senate, which is scheduled to take the bill up next week.
Ahead of the House vote, Nebraska's highest court cleared the proposed route for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  The ruling will let the Administration resume its almost-completed review of the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline.  They had suspended the process in April citing the ongoing court case. The Nebraska ruling puts additional pressure on the Obama Administration to act.

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Thornberry introduces the Death Tax Repeal Act


Area Congressman Mac Thornberry filed his first bill of the 114th Congress on its opening day.  The “Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 173)” will completely and permanently repeal the Federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes.  The bill already has garnered 36 cosponsors. 

“The death tax is fundamentally unfair for estates of any size,” said Thornberry.  “Americans are required to pay taxes on their savings and incomes while they are alive.  They should not have to do so at death as well, nor should their children and grandchildren have to bear these taxes.”

The death tax, also known as an inheritance tax or estate tax, goes against some of the values Americans cherish most.  The American people should be able to work hard, build, and save knowing that these assets will one day be passed on to their children and grandchildren.  Particularly vulnerable to the death tax are small business owners, farmers, and ranchers who hope to pass personal business on to future generations but have to contend with a tax that may make that impossible.

"Generations of ranching families have worked tirelessly and sacrificed to build successful operations that help feed the nation," said Joe Parker Jr., a local, third generation rancher and past Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association President. “Unfortunately, when it comes time to pass these hard-earned operations on to the next generation, if a rancher can't afford to pay this tax, they lose their property and their way of life. 

"Death should never be a taxable event. This is why I support Congressman Mac Thornberry's "Death Tax Repeal Act," which is critical to the future of the ranching industry," Parker concluded. Read More

Times Record: Thornberry officially House Armed Services Committee chairman


Rep. Mac Thornberry was sworn in Tuesday as the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, becoming the first Texan to lead the committee.

The 13th Congressional District representative and other committee chairmen were sworn in by Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner during a ceremony in the House chambers. The Clarendon, Texas, native has been on the committee since he was elected in 1994.

Thornberry said by telephone he will spend the next couple of weeks organizing the committee and subcommittees and then begin bringing members up to date on issues such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the latest antics of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine and North Korean cyber attacks.

“We’re going to spend a fair amount of time on the committee talking about the national security environment we face,” he said. “Before we jump ahead to specific budgets and so forth, we need to understand the threats that we’re facing.”

Thornberry said House Republicans will go on a planning retreat toward the end of next week to prioritize the agenda including funding of the military and avoiding another looming sequestration that could slash the Defense Department’s budget even more.

“I want to help make sure that everybody understands what sequestration is doing to the military,” he said. “It’s one of the big challenges. The Armed Services Committee on its own can’t solve it. It’s going to have to be both the House and the Senate working even with the president to do it.”

Another important item Thornberry said he’d work on as committee chairman is reforming defense acquisition and spending. He described the DOD as “big and complex,” and the committee needs to make sure the country is getting more value out of every dollar put toward defense spending.

There are some Democrats in the House who will go along with bolstering the military because they understand the dangers the United States face, Thornberry said. But, there are some who are “anti-military,” adding that the George McGovern wing of the Democratic Party still exists.

“The big question is how you do it,” he said. “That’s really where you get into some differences of opinion. But I think given what we’ve seen so far under sequestration, there is bipartisan support for fixing sequestration.”

Thornberry has 20 years of experience on the Armed Services Committee, making the transition to the committee leadership position a little easier. But, he said, the world in which we live is different and more difficult because of the variety of threats the country faces.

Being the chairman does have its nuances, he said, that will make his schedule somewhat busier with travel and visiting with foreign ambassadors, defense ministers and the like. Thornberry said it’s up to him to set the agenda and be the House’s spokesman on defense issues.

While the opportunity exists to get a host of issues taken care of with a Republican-led Congress, the congressman said not to expect much cooperation from the White House.

“He’s always given speeches that say (he’ll cooperate),” Thornberry said of President Barack Obama. “But when push comes to shove, basically he has not been willing to cooperate.” Read More

House passes annual government spending bill


The U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill yesterday that provides funding for nearly all of the government’s operations through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2015. The exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which will receive funding for less than 90 days, expiring on February 27, 2015.  Under the agreement, overall discretionary spending has been reduced by $165 billion since Fiscal Year 2010.  The legislation passed with a bipartisan vote of  219 to 206.  Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) voted in favor of the bill.   
“This bill fulfills our constitutional responsibility to fund the government, while also reining in spending and executive and other federal overreach,” said Rep. Thornberry.  “We have been able to reduce spending by $165 billion since 2010.  We plan to build on this progress with additional meaningful cuts and changes when Congress returns in January with Republican majorities in the House and the Senate.”
The bill funds important Department of Defense programs and projects, offers a pay raise for troops, and provides resources to help prepare for current and future threats.  The defense portion of the bill also includes funding for local national security facilities, including missions at Sheppard Air Force base in Wichita Falls.  In addition, it contains nearly $2.8 billion for Bell Helicopter’s V-22  and other aircraft programs, much of which is done in Amarillo. It also increases funding for nuclear weapons activities—much of which is performed at Pantex—to $8.2 billion.  To help address the backlog of deferred maintenance on physical infrastructure in the nuclear weapons facilities, the agreement provides $37.4 million specifically for recapitalization projects at Pantex. 
The BLM Red River land dispute issue is addressed in the funding bill as well. It includes language to help ensure that the Bureau of Land Management defers any final decision-making regarding land use plans along the Red River in Texas until appropriate surveys have been conducted to determine ownership. 
Notably, the legislation provides no new funding for Obamacare; cuts $345.6 million from the Internal Revenue Service and $60 million from the Environmental Protection Agency; gives states the power to relax Obama Administration’s onerous school lunch rules; also, includes many provisions to rein in regulatory overreach.  

The bill also offers emergency funding to help combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to address the domestic and international Ebola crisis.  

Bill Highlights – 

Spending Cuts: Cuts total discretionary spending for the 5th year in a row, which reduces spending to levels lower than under George W. Bush in constant dollars.     

Limited Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Funding: Funds DHS only until Feb. 27, 2015, (less than 90 days) so the new Republican Congress can tackle the issue of Obama’s immigration action in February.

Defense Spending: Funds our nation’s security, military readiness, support for our troops at home and abroad, and care for military families.  It also includes emergency funds to pay for operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

          • Military Personnel and Pay: The bill fully funds the pay raise for the military and provides $215 million above the request to fully fund the cost-of-living allowance for military retirees. 

          • Pantex:  Increases funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons activities including Pantex.  The bill also provides $37.4 million specifically for recapitalization projects at Pantex.  

          • Bell:  Includes about $2.8 billion total for Bell V-22 and helicopter programs, much of which is done in Amarillo, including procurement of 19 new Ospreys and 28 new helicopters for the Marine Corps.

          • Sheppard AFB:  Includes funding for activities at Sheppard AFB in the personnel account and operations and maintenance account.

Red River: Includes report language to help ensure that the Bureau of Land Management does not make any final decisions regarding land use plans along the Red River in Texas until appropriate surveys have been conducted to determine ownership. 

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Cuts IRS funding by $345.6 million and includes extensive oversight requirements, bringing IRS funding to below FY 2008 levels.  The bill also prohibits funding to target organizations for regulatory scrutiny based on their political beliefs. 

Restricts Clean Water Act (CWA): Restricts the application of the CWA in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches.

Environmental Protection Agency: Cuts EPA by $60 million and reduces its staffing to the lowest level since 1989.

GIPSA:  Includes restrictions on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from implementing regulations harmful to the livestock and poultry industry. 

Light Bulbs: Bans the Administration’s onerous “light bulb” standard.

Obamacare: Provides no new funding for Obamacare and blocks the Obamacare slush fund.  Cuts the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) by $10 million and continues restrictions on using taxpayer dollars to lobby for Obamacare.

Department of Justice: Prohibits implementation of a potential Arms Trade Treaty and increases funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program by $6.5 million to $245 million.  The HIDTA program was created by Congress to provide assistance to State law enforcement agencies in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions in the United States.  Recently, Randall and Potter County sheriffs have petitioned to be deemed a HIDTA area. 

Dodd-Frank: Amends the swaps “push-out” requirement included in the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform law.  This regulation would require banks to separate, or push out, their derivatives business from the part of the institution that is federally insured.  Opponents of the push out provision say it will be costly to financial institutions while not actually reducing risk to the financial system.  Former Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has expressed opposition to the provision.

Second Amendment: Prohibits funding for the EPA to regulate lead content in ammunition or fishing tackle. 

Department of Transportation (DOT): Suspends DOT regulations requiring two nights of rest after a week of driving for long-haul truckers.

Export-Import Bank: Prohibit the Export-Import Bank and OPIC from blocking coal and other power-generation projects – helping to increase exports of U.S. goods and services. 

Abortion: Continues the ban on public funding for abortions in DC and a ban on using federal funding for federal prisoners. 

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Thornberry Statement on Nomination of Ash Carter as Secretary of Defense


Congressman Mac Thornberry, the Chairman-elect of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following comments after President Obama nominated Ash Carter as the next Secretary of Defense:

"I respect Ash Carter.  He knows the Pentagon, and he knows that some reforms are essential if we are to meet the national security needs of the country.

If confirmed, his challenge will be to resist the micromanagement of the White House staff that has plagued his three predecessors and to speak candidly to Congress and the American people on what is required to defend the country.  The world is growing more dangerous, and strong, stable U.S. leadership is needed now more than ever."

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Thornberry's Red River bill advances out of Committee


A bill to protect private property along the Red River was approved by the House Resources Committee on Wednesday, moving the legislation one step closer toward full consideration by the House of Representatives.

“We will not let up in our efforts to assure landowners that their private property along the Red River will be protected, and the fact that the Resources Committee approved the bill shows that we have both common sense and momentum on our side,” says Thornberry.

The “Red River Private Property Protection Act (H.R. 4979)," introduced by area Congressman Mac Thornberry, 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 federal claims and issue 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 was debated along with other proposals dealing with property rights that fall under the House Natural Resources Committee’s jurisdiction.

The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), acknowledged the land issue is “complicated” and that the bill continues to evolve. He also said, “Mr. Thornberry and his staff have logged many hours and undertaken extensive outreach in order to address and try to resolve this ownership dispute.” Finally, he called the bill’s mark up a “crucial benchmark to assist in the evolution of the bill and bring certainty to folks along the Red River in both Texas and Oklahoma.”

Back in July, the Resources Committee held a hearing on the topic. As a part of the hearing, both Rep. Thornberry and a local Texas landowner whose land along the Red River has been called into question testified about the need to settle the issue.

Additional information can be found on Congressman Thornberry’s website by clicking here. Read More

Rep. Thornberry Selected House Armed Services Committee Chairman


WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Mac Thornberry has been chosen to chair the House Armed Services Committee for the 114th Congress.  Thornberry is the first Texan – Republican or Democrat – ever selected to lead the Committee or its predecessors.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and also mindful of the responsibility it entails,” Thornberry said.  “The men and women who serve our nation in the military deserve the full support and backing of the Congress and of the country.  Providing that support will be my top priority.”

Thornberry was selected to serve as Chairman by the Steering Committee of the House Republican Conference.  His selection is expected to be approved by a vote of all House Republicans tomorrow.

The Armed Services Committee has a responsibility to oversee the Pentagon, all military services, and all Department of Defense agencies.  Each year it writes a defense authorization bill, which authorizes military spending and sets the policies for the Pentagon to follow.

The outgoing Chairman, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), said that the “Armed Services Committee will be in the most capable of hands with Chairman-select Thornberry, and so will our Armed Forces.”  He continued, “During my four years as Chairman, I’ve come to rely on Mac as a policy expert, a gifted communicator, a trusted confidant, and a friend. He has skillfully helped  our Committee as Vice-Chairman, and his national security smarts have earned the respect of both Congress and defense experts alike. But most importantly, Mac is a leader with a servant’s heart. His devotion and loyalty is, above all, to the men and women of our military.

Thornberry’s counterpart in the Senate is Senator John McCain of Arizona, who will chair the Senate Armed Services Committee.  

“This opportunity is only possible because of the help and support I have received over the years from my family, employers and mentors, co-workers, my official and campaign staffs, and especially from the people of the 13th congressional District of Texas.  I am extremely grateful for the confidence they have shown in me and will do my best to live up to the responsibilities of this position on their behalf.”

Thornberry has deep experience in national security issues, having worked as a congressional staff member on defense issues and as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department in the Reagan Administration.  He has served in Congress since 1995 and has been a member of the Armed Services Committee during his entire tenure.  He has also served on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence since 2004.

“Our country faces a wide array of serious national security challenges from the renewed aggression of major powers to terrorism and attacks in cyberspace.  Congress has an indispensable role to play in meeting those challenges, and the Committee will work to see that our country remains strong.” Read More

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Contact Information

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

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.

Serving With

Louie Gohmert


Ted Poe


Sam Johnson


John Ratcliffe


Jeb Hensarling


Joe Barton


John Culberson


Kevin Brady


Michael McCaul


Michael Conaway


Kay Granger


Randy Weber


Bill Flores


Randy Neugebauer


Lamar Smith


Pete Olson


Will Hurd


Kenny Marchant


Roger Williams


Michael Burgess


Blake Farenthold


John Carter


Pete Sessions


Brian Babin


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