Mac Thornberry

Mac Thornberry


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.       

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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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COLUMN: Protecting Private Property


All of us who grew up on the land know how precious our American private property rights are.  It is not just about our business or finances.  It is also about self-reliance and stewardship – taking care of what we have in order to provide opportunity and the chance for a better future for coming generations.
That sense of responsibility for the future makes threats to our property rights alarming, especially when those threats come from our own government.  And there is a growing momentum toward federal intrusion into private property and a corresponding erosion of our personal control over our most sacred resource – the land.
An issue of property rights along the Texas-Oklahoma border has thus generated a fair amount of attention.  The background starts in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase.  In that agreement between President Jefferson and Napoleon, the riverbed of the Red River was part of the land bought by the United States.  Subsequent treaties between the United States and Spain, the U.S. and Mexico, and the U.S. and the Republic of Texas confirmed that the border was the south bank of the Red River.
But defining the south bank has been a challenge over the years.  After several court cases, treaties, and federal legislative action, the Red River Boundary Compact was negotiated by Texas and Oklahoma, ratified by Congress, and signed into law by President Clinton in 2000.  It established the boundary line as the vegetation line along the south bank.
There had been, however, various interpretations of the south bank over the years, which confused the boundaries for some land owners.  And then last year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it was reviewing and updating its management plan for any land the federal government might own along the River.  There was immediate concern that the federal government was making a “land-grab” that called some private ownership claims into doubt.
I have introduced legislation with Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz to put those concerns to rest.  Our legislation (H.R. 4979 and S. 2537) requires the BLM to provide quit claim deeds to any property owner who can support his or her ownership through county deed and tax records.  And it prevents the BLM from including any private property in its management plans.  In truth, there should be no issue of federal claims to any private land along the border, but our legislation seeks to remove any question and settle the issue once and for all.

Most historians agree that the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in our Declaration of Independence was based upon John Locke’s view that government’s job is to protect a person’s “life, liberty, and estate.”  For the founding fathers, protecting property meant protecting opportunity and freedom from an overbearing government.  Recent studies confirm that property rights are a fundamental and essential ingredient to societal development and to rising standards of living.
It is so basic that we sometimes take it for granted.  Yet secure property rights, which are recognized and protected by government, have been and will continue to be vital to our American way of life.  Those rights deserve our constant vigilance and strong protection. Read More

Thornberry Advocates for U.S. Energy Independence


Calling it a win for American energy, Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) joined his House colleagues this week to pass three bills that expand U.S. energy production, create more jobs, and cut costs.

“Energy is one of the real bright spots in our economy, no thanks to Washington,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry.  "Increasing energy production also has very real strategic consequences that benefit us in this turbulent time for our nation's security."  

Continued energy growth has significant economic impact both nationally and locally.  Innovative technology and drilling developments, such as hydraulic fracturing, have increased domestic energy production across the country – particularly in Texas.  In fact, Texas is the nation’s leader in crude oil and natural gas production, accounting for approximately 1.9 million jobs.  

“Just yesterday, we saw the GDP drop by 2.9%, the sharpest pullback since the 2009 recession.  News like this makes the energy boom even more important for America," said Thornberry.  "It’s time to play to our strengths – invest in energy – to reverse this economic downward spiral and get more Americans back to work.  We have the tools; we just have to use them.”

H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, modernizes the cross-border approval process for oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  The bill replaces the Presidential permit requirement with a standardized approval process so long-term, cross-border projects like the Keystone Pipeline have a chance to succeed and create new jobs across the country.

H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, expedites exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) to our allies.  As the world’s top natural gas producer, America has the ability to supplant the influence of volatile countries like Russia and Iran who currently dominate the energy market.  Exports would both help our allies and create thousands of American jobs.  Studies estimate that for Texas alone, LNG exports would add 155,713 jobs and $31.4 billion in income over the next ten years.  As the Vice Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and an advocate for LNG exports, Thornberry is a co-sponsor of this bill.

H.R. 4899, Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act of 2014, requires the Administration to move forward with offshore energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources.  Since President Obama took office, total federal offshore oil production decreased by 13 percent and natural gas production decreased by 47 percent.  Offshore oil and gas give America the resources needed to decrease dependence on foreign oil, lower gas prices, and create more American jobs.   

In addition to these bills, Thornberry introduced his own bill to increase all-of-the-above domestic energy production.  The legislation, H.R. 2081, called the “No More Excuses Energy Act,”  would encourage construction of new refineries; increase onshore and offshore drilling; and invest in nuclear power plants.  The bill also opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to responsible drilling that produces nearly a million barrels per day.  More refineries and drilling areas assure a consistent energy supply for consumers and drives gas prices down.  Thornberry also introduced H.R. 2202, the “LNG Excise Tax Equalization Act,” to equalize the tax on LNG and diesel fuel in order to lower the cost and advance the use of natural gas.           

Last month, Thornberry visited an LNG filling station and a wind energy plant in Amarillo to see domestic energy first-hand from a variety of sources.

Along with today’s action to halt the Administration’s current restrictions on energy production, Thornberry has consistently combatted excessive federal regulations on multiple fronts.  Most recently, he spoke out against the President’s proposed EPA regulations on carbon-dioxide emission, which would increase costs for American businesses and consumers alike.  He also created legislation to protect landowners from the EPA’s regulatory overreach by redefining the term “navigable waters” in the Clean Water Act.  Thornberry also advocated against the inclusion of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as an Endangered Species to further prevent restrictions on farmers. Read More

Thornberry introduces bill to resolve Red River land dispute


Congressman Mac Thornberry introduced a bill today to protect private property along the Red River from federal ownership claims.  By providing legal certainty to landowners, the Red River Private Property Protection Act (H.R 4979) seeks to end any questions about the federal government's ownership of disputed land along the Red River.  Thornberry expects Senator Cornyn to introduce a similar measure in the Senate.

“This uncertainty threatens the value of privately-owned land and has made it more difficult for property owners to make decisions,” said Thornberry.  “It is essential that this issue be firmly and finally resolved so that landowners can be sure of their title.  The bill contains the authority to make that happen.”  
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.
Many landowners and other public officials are alarmed that the BLM actions might result in disputed claims of ownership.  Congressman Thornberry immediately pressed the case with the BLM, locally and with the agency’s leadership in Washington.  Since December, Thornberry and his staff have held multiple meetings, phone calls, and other correspondence with landowners, as well as local and state officials, to coordinate action.  He has also been working with relevant House congressional committees and the State’s U.S. Senators to discuss options of how to address it.  The legislation is the next step in ensuring that private property is protected.  

The bill, H.R. 4979, provides legal certainty to property owners along the Red River by:

• Directing the BLM to relinquish and transfer by quit claim deed any land in Texas along the Red River to a landowner who can prove through official State or county records that they fully own the land;

• Requiring the BLM to issue a public notice of the process and accept all legitimate claims of ownership;

• Establishing a 120-day time period in which the BLM must act on a request; and

• Preventing the BLM from including any privately owned acres in a Resource Management Plan.

Thornberry has asked the House Resources Committee, which oversees the BLM and all public land issues, to hold a hearing on the legislation at the earliest possible date.  Read More

Count the Cost of Obamacare by County


Newly-released data shows that people in the 13th congressional district are facing steep increases in their individual healthcare premiums.

A nationwide study released last week estimates that in our area, men of all ages face significant cost hikes for health insurance – some as high as 95 percent – with young men facing the steepest increases.  On average, young men are paying 74 percent more for their health insurance this year than last year.

In fact, a 27-year-old male in Randall county is paying 85 percent more for his individual policy in 2014 than he paid in 2013, while in Gray county, he will face an 84 percent increase.  In Wichita county, he will pay 73 percent more, and in Cooke county, 68 percent.  Not one county had an average increase lower than 54 percent.

Locally, women also face increased costs.  On average, women in their mid-twenties are paying 28 percent more for their health insurance in 2014 than in the previous year.

“The bottom line is Obamacare has failed to make good on its promise to decrease healthcare costs for everyone,” says Rep. Mac Thornberry.  “Instead, it’s done the opposite, leaving Americans with higher costs and fewer choices.  This report is the latest evidence that the law is a failure and a complete mess.  And that is why the House continues working to repeal, dismantle, and defund it.”

The report analyzed the county by county cost of Obamacare based on age and gender.  According to the report, Obamacare increased the cost of 2014 individual healthcare premiums by 49 percent nationally. 

Across Texas, Obamacare has caused healthcare costs to skyrocket, especially for young men (see chart below).  For the average 27-year-old male, premiums increased by 79 percent where costs increased by 29 percent for women of the same age.  Statistically, men in their twenties and thirties have the least healthcare needs of all demographics.  Yet, regardless of the need, they are forced to pay the same amount for coverage – essentially higher fees for less service.

To view how Obamacare affects a specific county, click here.

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Thornberry pushing for action on migration of unaccompanied children


Area Congressman Mac Thornberry and others in the House of Representatives are insisting that the Obama Administration take immediate action to halt the dangerous migration of unaccompanied children and families across the nation’s Southwest border.

“This illegal surge has reached crisis proportions, creating a security risk for our country and a safety hazard for the unaccompanied children,” said Rep. Thornberry.  “The President has a duty to enforce the laws and an obligation to do so in a way that protects the American people, while also ensuring the humane treatment of the unaccompanied children and families.  He must take immediate steps to address this serious situation, and the House stands ready and willing to help him.”

The statistics associated with the recent mass migration are startling.  According to a congressional letter sent to President Obama, in May 2014, the number of undocumented children apprehended by United States Customs and Border Protection increased by 267 percent over the number apprehended in May 2013.  During the same period, the number of undocumented adults increased by 72 percent.  At a rate of $5,000 per child, these criminal smuggling groups earned at least $53,230,000 in May alone.  

Federal Border Patrol agents have been overwhelmed recently with a surge of unaccompanied minors and other immigrants illegally crossing over the nation’s Southwest border.  In response, Governor Rick Perry and other Texas officials announced late Wednesday a plan to deploy more Department of Public Safety, or DPS, agents to the border — at a cost of $1.3 million per week.

Today, Thornberry and his House colleagues sent a letter to the President.  View the letter here.

Also, click here to see a similar letter sent by House Speaker John Boehner.

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Thornberry Statement on Growing Dangers in Iraq


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) released the following statement on the growing danger in Iraq:

"The aggressive advancement of terrorists across Iraq poses a major threat to Iraq, its neighbors, the Middle East, and the United States.  Our top priority must be to protect our people and American interests.  That protection cannot come from a passive White House.  Americans need to see the President's plan to stop the spread of terrorism and counter the threat as soon as possible."

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Thornberry Questions Hagel on negotiating with terrorists


This morning Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon), Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, questioned Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the release of Taliban terrorists in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Transcript included below.  Click here to watch a video of the hearing.


Mr. Secretary, I'd like to just begin with a brief additional observation on the notification issue.  For the past several years, this committee has worked on a bipartisan basis to establish an oversight structure for cyber operations, for terrorism operations, and for sensitive military operations, and an oversight structure that allows the department to have the flexibility it needs to operate in a volatile, rapidly changing world and still give us the ability to exercise our duties under the Constitution.

Now, the basis for all of those in all three of those areas is that we get timely, accurate information from the department.  And this failure, even if it was ordered by the White House, undermines the ability to have that sort of oversight structure.  I've been a member of the Intelligence Committee for 10 years.  Our work depends on getting accurate timely information from the intelligence community.  If the President can violate the law and say, 'No, in this case, we're not going to give you the information,' it undermines the oversight process that we have with the intelligence community.

So my point to you is, it's not just about this incident.  It's not just about somebody having their feelings hurt.  This decision undermines a lot of the working relationship in all these areas of national security.  And I think it's important that the whole Administration understands some of the ramifications of this.

Let me ask a specific question.  Press reports indicate that Sergeant Bergdahl was captured by a Haqqani Network commander and was held by the Haqqani Network.  Is that true?

SEC. HAGEL: What I would prefer is, as I noted, in a classified session, that we get into the specifics of the 15-6 commander's evaluation report that was done on the circumstances at the time of Sergeant Bergdahl's capture.  I believe that was done in August of 2009.  That's been sent up here, unredacted, sent up here yesterday.  And I'd just as soon get into that in a -- in a classified (room).

REP. THORNBERRY: Well, I'm not --

SEC. HAGEL: I would say this, though.  I would say this.  He was -- in that report that the Army did, he was classified as missing/captive. So -- (inaudible) --

REP. THORNBERRY: I wasn't really -- (inaudible) -- just to verify, as I understand it, Administration people have said clearly it was the Haqqani Network that kept him.

SEC. HAGEL: Well, the Haqqani Network did have him through periods of time.  This was another complication.  Over a five-year period, he was moved around.  We had difficulty finding him and knowing where he was.  Different groups held him.  So the complication of the Haqqanis being part of this, that's right.

REP. THORNBERRY: OK.  And it's also true the Haqqani Network is listed by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.

SEC. HAGEL: That's right. That's right.

REP. THORNBERRY: Let me just turn with --

SEC. HAGEL: But we didn't negotiate with Haqqani.

REP. THORNBERRY: OK.  I think that's a subject we'll want to discuss more, if we must, in the classified session, but I think who -- (inaudible) --

SEC. HAGEL: Well, I want to make sure the record's clear on that.

SEC. HAGEL: I want to make sure the record's clear.  We engaged the Qataris, and they engaged the Taliban.  If the Haqqanis were subcontracting with the Taliban, you know the Pakistan Taliban and the Afghan Taliban, there's a difference there.  So we get back into definitions of who has responsibility for whom.  I just want to make sure that's clear in the record, and we can go into a lot more detail.

REP. THORNBERRY: I think you just pointed out some of the difficulty in making categorical statements, that we don't negotiate with terrorists, when at least for some period the Haqqanis were the ones who had him.  Let me just ask about one other thing, and that is the five detainees that were released.  You said there is some risk of releasing someone from Guantanamo, but you also said they have not been implicated on any attacks in the United States.  I have some unclassified summary of evidence before the combatant status review tribunals.  For example, for Mr. Fasal it says the detainee engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.  Maybe there is a difference between them.  And another was against the coalition.  At some point there was evidence they were engaged in hostilities, military operations against the coalition, weren't there?

SEC. HAGEL: Yes.  There were mid to high ranking officials of the Taliban.  So, yes, they were part of the planning.  My point was, we have no direct evidence of any direct involvement in their direct attacks on the United States or any of our troops.  They were part of the Taliban.  At the time some were given to us, we picked up two, yes, they were combatants.

REP. THORNBERRY: So your point is they didn't pull the trigger, but they were senior commanders of the Taliban military who directed operations against the United States, and its coalition partners.  Is that a better way to do it?

SEC. HAGEL: That's right.  As I said in my statement, Congressman, they were combatants.  We were at war with the Taliban.  There's no getting around that, and I made that point, I thought pretty clear.


Thornberry serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 

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Thornberry Statement on Sgt. Bergdahl Release


Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) released the following statement in response to the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl:

"Of course, all of us are relieved that Sergeant Bergdahl is no longer a captive.  The agreement which led to his release raises a number of concerns, however. 

"One is that negotiating for the release of a hostage will encourage more hostage-taking. 

"Another is that release of the five detainees from Guantanamo will increase the danger to our troops and the Afghan government.  They are significant leaders of the Taliban.  The U.S. is trying to convince the Afghan government not to release many dangerous detainees currently in Afghan prisons.  Our release of five Taliban makes that argument more difficult for us to make.

"Finally, the President did not comply with U.S. law in giving Congress at least 30 days notice of any transfer from Guantanamo.  This Administration is developing a track record of ignoring laws it finds inconvenient."

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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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