Tom McClintock

Tom McClintock


Liberty and Union


Liberty and Union
House Chambers, Washington, D.C. 
February 15, 2017

Mr. Speaker:

    One of the most troubling aspects of California’s lurch to the left are the rise of two doctrines unknown in this country since the last gasp of the Southern Confederacy.  

    The first is the doctrine of nullification – the notion that states may defy federal laws that their leaders don’t agree with.  The most outspoken advocate of this doctrine was John C. Calhoun, who, in referencing our nation’s most revered document – the Declaration of Independence -- observed that our nation had been founded on – his words – “self-evident lies.”  

    The doctrine of nullification has been revived in the sanctuary cities movement, and has now reared its head as state legislation.  Our Constitution clearly gives Congress the sole prerogative to make immigration law and commands the President to faithfully execute those laws.   Our President is now doing so.  The supremacy clause binds the states to those laws.  Yet California’s legislature is actively considering a bill that would assert an independent power to defy them.     

    Mr. Speaker, states ought to be jealous guardians of their organic powers and prerogatives against unwarranted encroachments by the federal government.  But the very essence of constitutional federalism is article VI: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and of all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges of every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

    If a state, in rightfully guarding its powers, believes that a federal law unconstitutionally infringes on those powers, the Constitution provides that the courts shall resolve such disputes.  But asserting the power to nullify a federal law that is clearly within enumerated powers of the Congress and under the supremacy clause of the Constitution, crosses a bright line that no state has breached since the first state seceded in 1861.

    This brings us to the second, even more disturbing development in California’s march to the extreme left.

    There is no single act which more ultimately and categorically rejects our Constitution, our Country, and all they stand for, than a proposal to secede from the Union that has preserved our liberties for nearly two and a half centuries.  It is logically impossible to support secession and yet maintain loyalty to the Union from which you propose to secede.  Secession is the ultimate act of disloyalty, today no less than during the days of the Confederacy.

    And yet in California, a formal secession movement is now circulating petitions for signature to place exactly such a proposal on the ballot.  It should come as no surprise that one of its leading proponents is an American expatriate now living in Russia who declared he “could no longer live under an American flag.”  It should not even come as a surprise that the movement is cheered on by California’s increasingly radical left.

    But what came as a stunning surprise is that 32 percent of Californians support this measure according to a recent poll.  Let me repeat that: one in three Californians, according to this poll, want to repudiate our federal union.  

    We can only hope that the polling is wrong, or that the disaffected Californians who answered the poll in this fashion did so with reckless abandon that calm reflection will cure.  But it is impossible to avoid the implication that so many people in my afflicted state hold so little loyalty to our country that they would support a measure that willfully rends it asunder.   

    These movements – nullification and secession – cross from lawful dissent to lawless rebellion.  In these turbulent times, our greatest strengths are our rule of law, our constitutional institutions, and the loyalty of Americans to their priceless legacy of freedom and justice and the Union that preserves them.  

    Every person who takes office under our Constitution swears an oath to support and defend that Constitution.  These modern resurrections of the long- buried doctrines of nullification and secession strike at the heart of that Constitution.   These movements of the left would undermine the very foundation of our American civilization.  They ought to be condemned in the strongest possible terms and opposed by every American of good will who remains loyal to our free government.

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AIPAC Luncheon


AIPAC Luncheon
Sacramento, California
February 12, 2017

    For the last eight years, these luncheons have marked a steadily darkening scene in the Middle East.

    The Arab Spring brought the Muslim Brotherhood to temporary power in Egypt and made possible the military supply of Hamas in Gaza.  

    The Iran Nuclear Agreement freed billions of dollars for that regime to finance its terrorist operations around the world, and has done little to slow Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them.  

    Ransom payments of $400 million in untraceable euros, Swiss francs and other currencies to Iran are no doubt financing terrorist attacks yet to unfold. 

    The U.N. condemnation of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, severely undermined Israel’s security and diplomatic standing.     

    Clearly we are approaching a period of maximum danger for both Israel and the United States as these policies play out.  

    But rather than despair, today, for the first time in many years, there is cause for optimism.  It is always darkest before the dawn and dawn is now breaking.

    After the U.N. ambush in December, Prime Minister Netanyahu said this was – quote -- "The swan song of the old world biased against Israel.” He said, “We are entering a new era and as President-elect Trump said yesterday, this is going to happen much quicker than people think.” 

    Our new administration has declared its unabashed support for Israel, a position in concert with the will of Congress and of the American people.  

    There will be no more pallets of American cash for the mullahs, no more backstabbing at the United Nations, and no more patience for terrorist attacks made by Islamic extremists against America or its allies.

    President Trump has vowed to move the American embassy in Israel to its rightful and official capital city of Jerusalem, and the early fulfillment of this promise must not be delayed.  It will stand both as a symbol of American resolve and of the Administration’s integrity.   

    America must now stop funding our mutual enemies in the region; and once again treat our friends better than our enemies.      

    America takes no notice of a person’s religion.  But it has every right and every reason to take notice of alien political ideologies that pose a direct threat to our nation’s Constitution, its founding principles, the fundamental tenets of Western Civilization and to world peace.  And it has every responsibility to act to protect itself and its allies from those who would impose this ideology either at home or abroad.

    Time will tell whether the moment of maximum danger for Israel, the United States, and Western civilization is indeed now passing into the wake of history.   But I am confident that the litany of setbacks and defeats that we have bemoaned at these luncheons for the past eight years will soon begin to be replaced by advances and victories in the days and years and generations ahead.

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What True Democracy Looks Like


What True Democracy Looks Like
House Chambers, Washington, D.C.
February 7, 2017

Mr. Speaker:

    Our nation has come to a crossroads between two competing visions of the future that don’t easily reconcile.  At such times as these, emotions run high.

    The good news is that our institutions are the best ever designed to resolve such political disputes.  In other countries, the government is the sovereign and rights flow from it to the people.  In America, the people are sovereign.

    But in America, the sovereign doesn’t govern.  It hires help to govern during an election.  In-between elections, the sovereign people debate how the hired help is doing.  That’s the real debate: the one that goes on every day wherever Americans gather.   And after that family discussion, we decide whether to fire the hired help or keep it for another cycle.

    As long as we are TALKING WITH each other and not SHOUTING AT each other, our system works well.    

    Once in our history, we stopped talking with each other.  That was the election of 1860.  

    That election was marked not by reconciliation, but by rioting in those regions where the opposition dominated.  The opposition party refused to accept the legitimacy of the election itself.  Political leaders pledged resistance to the new administration by any means necessary.   They asserted the doctrine of nullification, the notion that any dissenting state or city that opposed federal laws could simply refuse to obey them.  Finally came the secession movement – the ultimate rejection of our Constitution and the rule of law.

    Have we not started down that road once again?

    Even before this election, we saw violent mobs carrying foreign flags, physically attack Americans for the sole reason that they wanted to attend a political rally for the candidate of their choice.  The violence in Berkeley last week warns us that this behavior is rising.  

    Some prominent elected officials are again asserting nullification by declaring their jurisdictions “sanctuaries” where federal immigration laws will simply be ignored.  And in California, a formal secession movement is supported by nearly a third of the population of my own suffering state.

    I have held more than a hundred town hall meetings in my district throughout the last eight years spanning the entire life of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements.  Through all those heated debates, the police have never had to intervene.  Until this weekend, in Roseville, when the Roseville Police Department determined that the size and temper of the crowd required a police escort to protect me as I left the venue.  

    The vast majority of the people attempting to attend the meeting were peaceful, decent and law abiding folks sincerely opposed to President Trump, wanting to make their views known to their elected representative.  But there was also a well-organized element that came to disrupt – and disrupt they did.

    In the last four elections, our country has turned dramatically away from the left.  The Democrats have lost 67 House Seats, 12 Senate Seats, 10 Governors, more than 900 state legislative seats and now the Presidency.  That happened in large part because those who opposed their policies talked with their neighbors about the future of our country.

    Instead of pursuing that successful example, the radical left seeks not to persuade their fellow citizens by reason, but rather to impose its views by bullying, insulting, intimidating -- and, as in Berkeley, by physically attacking -- their fellow citizens.  

    This is not a tactic likely to change minds, but if it persists, it could tear down the very institutions of democracy that have served us so well for so long.  

    I would ask the many sincere citizens who have been caught up with this disruptive element, do you object because the President is breaking his promises?  Or do you object because he is keeping them?  And if your objection is because the President is keeping the promises he made, is that not because the sovereign people – your neighbors and fellow countrymen – directed these changes over the last four elections?  

    If your love of our Constitution is greater than your hatred of our President, I implore you to engage in a civil discussion with your fellow citizens.  That is what true democracy looks like. 

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Click for Healthcare Issues

January 13, 2017 Vote Notes on Legislation
Instead of a straight-forward measure to repeal Obamacare completely and to replace it with free market reforms that Republicans have long advocated, Congress has instead chosen a too-clever-by-half manipulation of the rules that I believe will make repealing Obamacare harder and slower, while further disrupting an already faltering health care market. Worse, by misusing the budget and reconciliation process, Congress has squandered its most important tools to bring spending under control before we bankrupt our country.
November 30, 2016 Vote Notes on Legislation

H.R. 6 – 21st Century Cures ACT: YES.  This bill expedites FDA approvals for new medical drugs and devices and authorizes spending on major research into cancer and Alzheimer’s.  I voted against the original bill because it established multiple new mandatory spending programs outside of Congress’ annual appropriations review and depended primarily on budget gimmicks to pay for them.  This version replaces the mandatory spending aspects of the bill with discretionary spending that Congress must review and approve ever year, and greatly reduces the pay-for gimmicks.

September 16, 2016 Columns

Zika Funding

A recent letter writer asks my position on Zika funding and why Congress has not acted.

With my support, the House voted in June to appropriate $1.1 billion to combat Zika – the result of a bi-partisan conference agreement.  There was no debate on the measure, because it was taken up on the day House Democrats staged their sit-in, physically blocking access to the microphones and shouting down any who tried to speak from the well.  Nevertheless, the bill passed on a vote of 239-171, with most Democrats opposing.

June 14, 2016 Current Issues

Dear Neighbor:

I am hearing from many constituents who have received notices that their healthcare premiums are skyrocketing, or their plans are being dropped either by their employers or their insurers, or that they are having hours cut back, salaries reduced or positions eliminated at work as employers try to cope with these increased costs.

I need to know how this law is affecting you.  I invite you to share your experience with me so that I can get a clearer picture of how this program is unfolding and so that I can share your experiences with my colleagues.  

December 3, 2013 Speeches
A great tragedy is now unfolding across America as we prepare for the New Year. Millions of Americans are losing their health plans; millions more are facing staggering price increases; millions more are having hours cut or seeing their salaries pared back at work because of Obamacare. Sadly, this is just the beginning. In coming days, millions of employer-provided plans face cancellation, multiplying this disaster many fold.
November 19, 2013 Speeches
We are now seven weeks into the implementation of Obamacare. We know in the first four weeks, 106,000 Americans placed health plans in their shopping baskets, though it is not clear how many of them actually purchased plans. Meanwhile, it is now estimated that some FIVE AND A HALF MILLION Americans have lost the health insurance that they had, that they liked, and that they were promised they could keep. The inconvenient truth is that this law has dramatically INCREASED the ranks of the uninsured. Yesterday came word that college students are seeing their low-cost student plans cancelled - with replacement costs as much as 1,800 percent higher under Obamacare.
November 15, 2013 Speeches
Yesterday, we heard yet another empty promise from the President: that by fiat he can delay provisions of law under Obamacare that have already cost a staggering FIVE MILLION Americans their health insurance. Notice that he didn't say the law has changed. He simply said that he will ignore the law, and he invites health insurers to do the same. This is a constitutional abomination.
November 15, 2013 Press Release
HR 3350 - Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013: YES. It is important not to over-promise on this measure. It will not get back the five million health insurance policies that have already been cancelled due to Obamacare.
October 29, 2013 Speeches
It has become obvious over the past few weeks that we are now watching nothing less than the collapse of the American health care system. Millions of Americans are losing their health plans and are being set adrift into a dysfunctional system where they cannot find comparable affordable policies.
October 9, 2013 Speeches
This October crisis is punctuated by three developments that are becoming increasingly obvious and disturbing. The first is the refusal of the Senate and the President to resolve their differences with the House through negotiation and compromise on the one bill that would fund this government and end this shutdown.
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Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States


I strongly support President Trump’s executive order on refugees.  There is no unconditional right to enter the United States, and the President has a sworn responsibility to assure that those entering our country are not hostile to our Constitution, our people, or the rule of law.  The order is limited to countries that are hot-beds of Islamic extremism and provides for case-by-case waivers to assure that bona fide dissenters from these regimes can enter.  This is a temporary stop-gap to give the administration time to put a new vetting system in place that can adequately assess the veracity of a refugee’s claims and his intentions. 

Link to text of Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States

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Obamacare Impact: We Invite You to Share Your Experiences With Us


Dear Neighbor:

I am hearing from many constituents who have received notices that their healthcare premiums are skyrocketing, or their plans are being dropped either by their employers or their insurers, or that they are having hours cut back, salaries reduced or positions eliminated at work as employers try to cope with these increased costs.

I need to know how this law is affecting you.  I invite you to share your experience with me so that I can get a clearer picture of how this program is unfolding and so that I can share your experiences with my colleagues.  


Tom McClintock

Comment Form
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California Water Crisis


Click for California Water Crisis link

December 7, 2016 Speeches
WRDA Conference Report: Water for California; Fire Protection for Tahoe. The conference report on the Water Resources Development Act is the product of many, many hours of good-faith negotiations between the House and Senate and between Republicans and Democrats.
December 1, 2016 Speeches
President-elect Trump has many difficult fiscal tasks ahead – one of which is to promote long-overdue infrastructure construction at a time when the national debt exceeds our entire economy and interest costs alone are eating us alive. Some have said that a rebounding economy resulting from tax reform will pay for it. That may be, but it’s not guaranteed; it cannot be accurately forecast; and we’ll need any new revenues to beef up our defenses and reduce our deficit – two other critical objectives of the new administration.
September 28, 2016 Vote Notes on Legislation

H.R. 5303 - Water Resources Development Act:  YES.  On the plus side, out of a total of $10.5 billion for projects across the nation, this bill authorizes $1.6 billion for flood control projects in the Sacramento Delta.  (Of course, this would have been unnecessary if the Auburn Dam had been completed, but at the moment that’s, um, water under the bridge).  It also includes a provision I have long sought to allow the use of fish hatcheries to meet ESA requirements, which has the potential to save billions of dollars and billions of gallons of water.

August 27, 2015 Speeches
It’s ironic that we are celebrating progress on a facility to rapidly release water out of Folsom Lake while we are in the fourth year of an historic drought and the lake is nearly empty. This spillway project is a reminder that the previous generation built these great dams not only to protect us against water shortages in dry years, but also to protect us against floods in wet ones. This combination of water storage and flood protection is what makes it possible to sustain a thriving and prosperous human population throughout this region.
July 16, 2015 Speeches

Congressman McClintock is a co-author of H.R. 2898 (Valadao) the Western Water and American Food Security Act.  The legislation was approved by the House on July 16th, 2015.  The bill next goes to the Senate.  Congressman McClintock delivered the following remarks in support of H.R. 2898 during House floor debate, and he also spoke in opposition to an amendment offered by Rep. Grijalva.

H.R. 2898 – California Water Bill
July 16, 2015

Mr. Speaker:

July 16, 2015 Speeches

Congressman McClintock is a co-author of H.R. 2898 (Valadao) the Western Water and American Food Security Act.  The legislation was approved by the House on July 16th, 2015.  The bill next goes to the Senate.  During House floor debate the Congressman spoke in opposition to an amendment offered to the bill by Rep. Grijalva. The amendment was not adopted. The Congressman's House floor debate remarks in support of H.R.

July 8, 2015 Press Release

Congressman McClintock is a co-author of H.R. 2898 (Valadao), the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015.  The legislation was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee on July 9th, 2015.  The bill next goes to the House floor.  Congressman McClintock delivered the following remarks in the House Natural Resources Committee in support of the measure:

Opening Statement
HR 2898 – California Water Bill
July 8, 2015

Mr. Chairman:

May 1, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today adopted an amendment by Congressman Tom McClintock to forbid federal agencies from buying up scarce water during California’s catastrophic drought in order to release it into rivers to meet environmental requirements.  The amendment was subsequently adopted today as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Act. The amendment was adopted on a vote of 226 – 9, and final passage of the Appropriations Act on a vote of 230 –7.

April 22, 2015 Speeches
California is now in its fourth year of the worst drought on record. Hydrologists estimate it is the worst drought in 1,200 years.
March 26, 2015 Press Release
During times of extreme and exceptional drought conditions the bill will suspend water releases by Federal and State agencies to adjust river water temperatures.
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Instead of a straight-forward measure to repeal Obamacare completely and to replace it with free market reforms that Republicans have long advocated, Congress has instead chosen a too-clever-by-half manipulation of the rules that I believe will make repealing Obamacare harder and slower, while further disrupting an already faltering health care market.  Worse, by misusing the budget and reconciliation process, Congress has squandered its most important tools to bring spending under control before we bankrupt our country.


    The annual budget sets levels of spending for the federal government.  Once a budget is adopted, reconciliation provides for a single bill that can bypass the 60-vote procedural hurdle in the Senate – but it can only be used to the extent it modifies those provisions that have a direct fiscal impact on the Treasury.  It can make no other changes.  The joint leadership strategy is to use this process, in tandem with regulatory changes by the new Administration, to remove as much of the fiscal aspects of Obamacare as possible.  It relies on follow-up legislation that will require 60-votes to actually repeal and replace Obamacare.  And therein lies the problem.  

    Reconciliation does not repeal Obamacare.  Rather, it takes out some parts and leaves others, making Republicans responsible for the ensuing market, without the votes to finish the job or replace it with free-market reforms.  Since Senate Democrats are unlikely to cooperate on post-reconciliation fixes, we had better be very clear what the health care system will then look like under the best-case scenario.

    Reconciliation can end the Obamacare subsides and replace them with tax credits.  It can repeal the taxes and the tax penalty that is used to enforce the individual mandate.  It can end the non-compliance penalties on businesses and return Medicaid to its pre-Obamacare condition. 

    However, reconciliation cannot repeal the underlying law.  Insurance companies will still be required to offer Obamacare-compliant policies and still be required to guarantee issuance of policies.  State governments will continue to be the primary enforcers of the insurance mandates, and will still have to approve any new plans.  

    In those states willing to approve non-compliant plans, insurers will have to decide whether to risk civil liability for selling consumers policies that are out of compliance with federal law.

    HHS does have significant latitude through the regulatory process to re-define the parameters of many of these mandates, but the law will still require that the new HHS guidance is consistent with benefits found in a “typical” policy.  It will still be bound by the Administrative Procedures Act that forbids changes that are considered “arbitrary and capricious.”  And, ironically, this latitude will also depend on maintaining the Chevron deference doctrine. Chevron deference is a doctrine that courts will generally not question agency interpretation of laws – a doctrine the House has already voted to end.  

    What does all this mean to consumers?  Since healthy people are no longer required to buy insurance and insurance companies are still required to issue policies to all comers, premiums for Obamacare-compliant plan premiums could sky-rocket.  The availability of non-compliant policies will depend on how much legal risk insurers are willing to assume and whether the individual state is willing to approve them, meaning health insurance could become unavailable in many markets.   The passage of follow-up legislation will be absolutely vital.  
    We are taking this path solely to by-pass a Democratic filibuster (because Senate Republicans stubbornly refuse to reform cloture) and to give the new President an early victory.  We need to ask ourselves how this strategy is likely to play out.  The House will send a reconciliation bill to the Senate.  Under intense Democratic opposition, warning that it will cause chaos in health care, the reconciliation bill will pass and any follow-up legislation will be blocked.  Obamacare will continue to collapse.  Indeed, its collapse may accelerate because of added uncertainties in the market.   

    Democrats have already announced what their response will be: “Republicans passed this over our objections; we warned it would destabilize your health care; it has; and we Democrats will not let them get away with half-measures to try and mask the damage they’ve done.”  The system will continue to deteriorate and public outrage will continue to build against Republicans for “breaking the ACA.”  As the House sends reform measures over to the Senate, Democrats will block them with the refrain: “you broke it; you fix it; and this doesn’t do it.”  The political dynamic, once favorable to Republican reforms, will have shifted.  Under increasing public pressure, Republican attrition will ultimately force Congress to abandon the effort and extend Obamacare indefinitely.   

    Fortunately, there is an alternative.  Pass a clean bill out of the House that completely repeals Obamacare and immediately replaces it with the patient-centered system long advocated by House Republicans.  As Obamacare continues its collapse and public outrage mounts against Democrats for imposing the ACA, Republicans are in a strong position to say, “We warned Obamacare would fail; it has failed; here is the reform that will save your family’s health care; but the same Senate Democrats who created this fiasco now stand in the way.”  With the House having passed the rescue bill, the President calling for it and Senate Republicans clamoring to pass it, pressure on the eight hold-out Democrats would be enormous.  The Senate could then force Democrats to engage in a genuine filibuster until public pressure and Democratic attrition break it.  The clean bill could then go to the President within months.
    The tragedy is that if the “clean bill” option failed, the reconciliation option would still be available.  Obamacare would continue to unravel on its own and the public would increasingly demand relief.  But if the reconciliation option fails, the political dynamic will have already shifted, Republicans will have lost the high ground, and the clean bill option becomes improbable.  


    I also object to the misuse of the budget resolution for this purpose.  Although it is described and intended as the pre-requisite for the reconciliation bill on Obamacare, it is nevertheless a budget resolution that maintains our current spending trajectory.  Under the trajectory set by this resolution, the national debt will balloon from $20 trillion to $30 trillion over the next ten years and never balance.  This poses a severe risk of a sovereign debt crisis within the decade.  True, we are now beginning the 2018 budget process that can correct this trajectory – but only if the House passes it, which it failed to do last year.  And it begins the 2018 budget process with Republicans having already endorsed an unsustainable fiscal course.

    Now that we have a Republican president, the reconciliation bill is the most powerful tool we have to actually bring spending under control before we bankrupt our country – and we only get one per budget year.  Not only is it ill-suited to repealing Obamacare, I am afraid that by using it in this fashion, we are squandering one of the last chances we have to bring mandatory spending under control before it bankrupts our country.  

The legislation discussed in this vote note is  S.Con.Res. 3.

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Time to Get Serious About a Balanced Budget Amendment


Congressman McClintock discusses his proposal for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (introduced as House Joint Resolution 12).   House floor, January 11, 2017.

Time to Get Serious About a Balanced Budget Amendment

Mr. Speaker:

In the last eight years, our nation’s debt has doubled.  That means the Obama administration has borrowed as much money in eight years as our government borrowed in the 220 years between the first day of the George Washington administration until the last day of the George W. Bush administration.

Our interest costs are now eating us alive, and last year, the Congressional Budget Office warned that within six years on our current trajectory, interest payments on the debt will exceed what we now spend for our entire defense budget.

Before we can provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare we have to be able to pay for it, and our massive debt directly threatens our ability to do so.  History warns us that nations that bankrupt themselves aren’t around very long.

I am confident that the new administration clearly understands the peril this poses to our country.  The nomination of Mick Mulvaney to head the Office of Management and Budget is a powerful signal that this danger will soon be addressed aggressively and effectively.

This debt is our generation’s doing and our generation’s responsibility to set right.   When we do so, we must leave behind the mechanisms to assure that reckless borrowing never threatens our government again.

For this reason, last week I reintroduced a proposal for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, House Joint Resolution 12.  

The beauty of the American Constitution is in its simplicity and its humility.  The American Founders recognized Cicero’s wisdom that “the best laws are the simplest ones.”  And they humbly realized that they couldn’t possibly foresee the circumstances and conditions that may confront future generations.  They resisted the temptation to micro-manage every decision that might be made centuries in the future.  

Instead, they set forth general principles of governance and erected a structure in which human nature itself would naturally guide future decisions to comport with these principles. 

In crafting a balanced budget amendment, we need to maintain these qualities. We should not attempt to tell future generations specifically how they should manage their revenues and expenditures in times that we cannot comprehend.  The experience of many states that operate under their own balanced budget amendments tells us that the more complicated and convoluted such strictures become, the more they are circumvented and manipulated.

In 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote this observation to John Taylor: 

“I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing." 

What is a balanced budget? It’s simply a budget that doesn’t require us to borrow.  Then why not just say so, as Jefferson did?  

Instead of trying to define fiscal years, outlays, expenditures, revenues, emergencies, triggers, sequestrations and on and on, I hope we would consider 27 simple words:

“The United States government may not increase its debt except for a specific purpose by law adopted by three-fourths of the membership of both Houses of Congress.”

That’s it.

Such an amendment, taking effect ten years from ratification, would give the government time to put its affairs in order and thereafter naturally require future Congresses to maintain both a balanced budget and a prudent reserve to accommodate fluctuations of revenues and routine contingencies.  

It trusts that three-fourths of Congress will be able to recognize a genuine emergency when it sees one and that one-fourth of Congress will be strong enough to resist borrowing for trivial reasons.  The states’ experience warns us that a 2/3 vote is insufficient to protect against profligacy.

Some advocate going much farther and establishing limitations on spending and taxation as well, but prohibiting borrowing sets a natural limit to the willingness of the people to tolerate taxation and therefore spending.  The real danger is when run-away spending is accommodated by borrowing – a hidden future tax.  The best and most effective way to invoke that natural limit is a simple prohibition.  

In drafting an amendment to guide not only this generation, but all those to follow, I would hope that we would do as the Constitutional Convention would have done if it had the benefit of Jefferson’s wise counsel: set down the general principle only and allow future generations, with their own insight into their own challenges, to put it to practical effect. 

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H.R. 26 - REINS Act
House Floor Remarks
January 5, 2017

Mr. Speaker:

I support the REINS act, but want to underscore the point raised by Mr. Barr.   

The REINS Act says that any regulation – that is, an act with the force of law – that’s adopted by the executive branch and costs more than $100 million, must then be approved by Congress in order to take effect.

As necessary as this bill is in the current environment, I’m afraid we have it backwards.  Under the Constitution just read on this floor again today, it is not the role of the executive branch to make laws and for the legislative branch to approve or veto them.

Quite the contrary, making law is the singular prerogative of the legislative branch – the executive then approves or vetoes that law.

The REINS act is necessary solely because for years Congress has improperly ceded its law-making powers to the executive.  The REINS act is a manifestation of how far out of synch we have gotten with the Constitution.  

It is time we restored the proper role of the legislative branch to make law and for the executive branch to faithfully execute it.

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Contact Information

434 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2511
Fax 202-225-5444

Congressman Tom McClintock was elected in November 2008 to represent the 4th Congressional District in the United States Congress.

During 22 years in the California State Legislature, and as a candidate for governor in California’s historic recall election, Tom McClintock has become one of the most recognizable political leaders in California.

First elected to the California Assembly at the age of 26, McClintock quickly distinguished himself as an expert in parliamentary procedure and fiscal policy. He served in the Assembly from 1982 to 1992 and again from 1996 to 2000. During these years, he authored California’s current lethal injection death penalty law, spearheaded the campaign to rebate $1.1 billion in tax over-collections to the people of California, and became the driving force in the legislature to abolish the car tax. He has proposed hundreds of specific reforms to streamline state government and reduce state spending.

In 2000, McClintock was elected to the California State Senate, where he developed innovative budget solutions such as the Bureaucracy Reduction and Closure Commission and performance-based budgeting, and advocated for restoring California’s public works.

From 1992-1994, McClintock served as Director of the Center for the California Taxpayer, a project of the National Tax Limitation Foundation. In 1995, he was named Director of Economic and Regulatory Affairs for the Claremont Institute’s Golden State Center for Policy Studies, a position he held until his return to the Assembly in 1996. In that capacity, he wrote and lectured extensively on state fiscal policy, privatization, bureaucratic reform and governmental streamlining.

McClintock’s commentaries on California public policy have appeared in every major newspaper in California and he is a frequent guest on radio and television broadcasts across the nation. Numerous taxpayer associations have honored him for his leadership on state budget issues.

McClintock has twice received the Republican nomination for the office of State Controller, narrowly missing election in 2002 by the closest margin in California history – 23/100ths of one percent of the votes cast.

McClintock is the Chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, and is a member of the Budget Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.   He is also a member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

Tom McClintock and his wife, Lori, have two children, Justin and Shannah.

Serving With

Doug LaMalfa


Paul Cook


Jeff Denham


David Valadao


Devin Nunes


Kevin McCarthy


Steve Knight


Ed Royce


Ken Calvert


Mimi Walters


Dana Rohrabacher


Darrell Issa


Duncan Hunter


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