The bill would add additional layers of security screening to require all three of the top national security chiefs – the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Intelligence (DNI) and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – certify to Congress that each refugee is not a security threat to the U.S. This is not currently done.
“We must be able to fully verify that these refugees pose no threat to our security. If that determination is not made then they shouldn’t enter the U.S.,” said Thornberry. “This bill would effectively halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq by inserting additional security protocols to our current process.”
Specifically, the bill would require:
“It is also important to remember that even if we stopped the refugee program altogether, our safety from terrorist attacks would not be guaranteed,” Thornberry continued. “We must remain vigilant, and the best way to do that is with good intelligence. Unfortunately, over the past seven years, we have continually tied our own hands when it comes to gathering intelligence to identify and counter national security threats.”
Acting to grow the American economy, create more jobs, and help ensure the nation’s energy security, the U.S. House passed a bill today to repeal the crude oil export ban, H.R. 702. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) is a cosponsor of H.R. 702 and voted in favor of the bill, which passed by a vote of 261 to 159.
“Removing this ban on oil exports will benefit our local oil workers and producers. This bill is a commonsense move to get rid of an outdated law,” Thornberry said. “Creating jobs in the oil field and lowering prices at the gas pump is simply good energy policy.”
According to IHS, lifting the restrictions on exports would support nearly one million additional jobs and increase domestic crude oil prices and production. The non-partisan energy analysis company also estimates that “it would cut the U.S. oil import bill by an average of $67 billion per year” and increase the average disposable income per household by $391 in 2018. In addition, IHS estimates that removing the oil export restriction could reduce U.S. gasoline prices by as much as 12 cents per gallon.
The U.S. is the only major oil producer in the world that does not allow crude oil exports. The ban on crude oil was enacted in 1973 after the Arab oil embargo.
The bill has been endorsed by organizations that include the American Petroleum Institute, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the Western Energy Alliance, the U.S. Oil & Gas Association, the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Roundtable.### Read More
More than 40 Panhandle 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.
“I consider it a great privilege each year to meet with veterans from our area that visit Washington as a part of the Texas Panhandle Honor Flight,” Thornberry said. “It’s an opportunity for us to show them around the very democratic institutions that they sacrificed so much to protect. We were happy to welcome these veterans, their family members, and many other wonderful volunteers who made the Flight possible.”
The Texas Panhandle Honor Flight is organized and sponsored by the local chapter of America Supports You Texas (ASYT), which is headquartered in Amarillo. The Honor Flights are part of ASYT’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.“Organizations like America Supports You Texas help remind us that our country remains strong because of what these veterans sacrificed. Groups like this play an important role in ensuring our veterans receive our deepest gratitude and thanks,” Thornberry says.
The first National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to be passed during U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry’s (R-Clarendon) chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee is headed to the Senate for approval and then to the President’s desk. The bill includes funding for Sheppard Air Force Base, the Pantex Plant, and the V-22 Osprey program at Bell Helicopter’s Military Aircraft Assembly Center in Amarillo. The bipartisan legislation passed the House 270-156.
“This year’s NDAA provides the resources our troops need for a strong national defense and does so in a fiscally-responsible way, while also reforming the way the military does business and cares for the troops,” said Thornberry.
The bill authorizes nearly $612 billion in spending for national defense. The funding in the bill is consistent with the House Budget Resolution that balances the federal budget and reduces government spending by $5.5 trillion over the next 10 years. President Obama has threatened to veto the defense bill if Congress does not agree to increase federal spending on domestic programs, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It would be irresponsible for the President to veto this bill, especially while the Taliban is retaking Afghan cities, ISIS is marching across the Middle East, and Russia is on the ground in Ukraine and now in Syria,” Thornberry continued. “The men and women who are protecting America and American interests across the world deserve better from their Commander-in-Chief.”
Locally, the bill authorizes funding for national security facilities and programs such as training missions at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls. In addition, about $2.8 billion total is authorized for Bell’s V-22 Osprey and helicopter programs, including the procurement of 19 new Ospreys and 28 new AH-1Z / UH-1Y helicopters for the Marine Corps. Much of the work for those aircraft will be performed in Amarillo. The NDAA also empowers military commanders to permit a member of the Armed Forces to carry appropriate firearms, including personal firearms, at Department of Defense (DoD) installations, reserve centers, and recruiting centers by the end of the year.
The legislation provides $8.8 billion in funding for nuclear weapons activities—like those performed at Pantex. To help address the severe backlog of maintenance on physical infrastructure across the National Nuclear Security Agency, the bill authorizes $50 million specifically for recapitalization projects and an additional $25 million for preventive maintenance. Another $645 million for defense nuclear security with an additional $12 million to reinvigorate efforts to recapitalize aging physical security infrastructure and $234 million to provide for much needed efforts to improve emergency response at Pantex and other nuclear weapons facilities.
The NDAA implements major reforms to the DoD's broken acquisition system to make it more efficient and agile. Thornberry, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), and other members of the Armed Services Committees engaged with experts at the DoD, in the defense industry, and within Congress with a focus on reforming the DoD.
A key compensation reform in the bill will provide a new retirement system for future military service members. The system would allow new service members to contribute to a portable 401(k)-style retirement plan with matching contributions from the government of up to five percent of basic pay. Eighty-three percent of service members leave the military before the current 20-year mark to qualify for retirement. Current members will have the option of being grandfathered into the old system or choosing the new system, and the provision would not affect veterans who have already retired.
The bill reauthorizes bipartisan prohibitions against transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S. and against building detention facilities in the U.S. Thornberry has expressed serious concerns about the circumstances of those transfers and of former detainees returning to the battlefield.
U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) issued the following statement after voting for a government funding measure that passed the House by a vote of 277-151 and the Senate 78-20:
"This afternoon, I voted in support of a temporary funding bill that will allow the federal government to meet its fiscal responsibilities – including funding our military and pay for the troops. We simply cannot ask men and women to risk their lives on behalf of our nation all around the world while they wonder whether they will get their paychecks and be able to pay their bills. I also voted in support of several measures in recent weeks that would strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, and we will continue to work on legislative options that can get such legislation to the President’s desk."
The federal government’s fiscal year ends on September 30, and, as usual, there are a number of controversial issues related to federal spending. The following chart summarizes how the federal government spent your money during the last fiscal year.
Here is another look at the different categories of spending over time.
As you can see, a large majority of federal spending – about two-thirds – is spent in mandatory programs, also known as entitlements and interest on our national debt. About one-third of spending is spent on those programs that Congress must vote on each year, known as discretionary spending, and about one-half of discretionary spending (16-17 percent of total federal spending) funds our military.
Discretionary spending funds most of the operations of government, which is the reason that when those programs are not renewed, it is called a “government shutdown.” Government offices and national parks are closed, while salaries of federal employees, including the salaries of our service members, are not paid during a shutdown.
Meanwhile, the two-thirds of spending in mandatory programs are unaffected even if there is no funding for government operations. Social Security checks will continue to be sent, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements are paid, and food stamps are still distributed.
I believe that it is essential to continue government funding, especially of our military, and avoid a shutdown. We simply cannot ask men and women to risk their lives on behalf of our nation all around the world while they wonder whether they will get their paychecks and be able to pay their bills. The world is too dangerous, and we owe them better than that.
Planned Parenthood funding
As you know, the recent release of videos involving employees of Planned Parenthood casually discussing the sale of body parts from aborted babies has been shocking for many people, including me, regardless of their views on abortion. Planned Parenthood does receive taxpayer funding. The vast majority of that funding, around 75 percent, is through the Medicaid program, which as an entitlement is not affected by a government shutdown or the failure to approve discretionary spending bills.
I supported and the House has passed a bill to end all taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, including all Medicaid funding, and to redirect that money to other women’s health organizations that are not involved in abortion. Because of Democratic opposition, the Senate has not been able to get the 60 votes necessary to even vote on the House-passed bill.
This week the House will begin to use a special procedure known as reconciliation under which a bill cannot be filibustered in the Senate. In other words, under reconciliation, certain bills can pass the Senate with a majority of 51 votes rather than the 60 votes normally required to overcome a filibuster. This reconciliation bill will end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood and also dismantle key provisions of Obamacare. With a majority vote in the House and the Senate, that legislation can be sent to the President.
In addition, some states have taken action. Medicaid is a program that is funded by both the federal government and the individual states, and some states have prohibited Planned Parenthood from receiving any Medicaid funding. Texas is one of those states.
Other funding issues
Other funding issues must be addressed in the next few weeks. For example, highway funding expires at the end of October and must be renewed in order for construction and repair of highways and bridges to continue. At some point soon, the federal government will reach the debt limit, which means it can borrow no more money even to pay the interest on debt it has already incurred.
Finally, the following chart provides an update on the federal deficit.
Despite the serious differences between President Obama and Republicans in Congress on spending and tax issues, you can see that the federal deficit has been shrinking since Republicans became the majority party in the House in 2011. But for this progress to continue, we must address the two-thirds of the federal spending that is in the mandatory programs.
I invite you to learn more about this issue and others by visiting my website here. Have a question you would like answered? Please contact me by phone, letter, e-mail,on Facebook, or on Twitter.
As always, I appreciate hearing from you.
2329 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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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House passes bill to halt refugee program and strengthen screening measures https://t.co/smvGmGVsYK