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Mac Thornberry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mac Thornberry
Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byAdam Smith
Succeeded byMike Rogers
Chair of the House Armed Services Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byBuck McKeon
Succeeded byAdam Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 13th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byBill Sarpalius
Succeeded byRonny Jackson
Personal details
William McClellan Thornberry

(1958-07-15) July 15, 1958 (age 65)
Clarendon, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseSally Thornberry
EducationTexas Tech University (BA)
University of Texas at Austin (JD)

William McClellan "Mac" Thornberry (born July 15, 1958) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Texas's 13th congressional district from 1995 to 2021.[1][2] A member of the Republican Party, Thornberry represented the most Republican district in the United States by partisan voting index. The district covers the Texas Panhandle and stretched between the Oklahoma and New Mexico borders.

In September 2019, Thornberry announced that he would not run for reelection in 2020, and former Physician to the President Ronny Jackson was elected to succeed him.[3][4]

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/2
  • Chairman Mac Thornberry: 2018 Nunn Prize Recipient
  • A Path for Durable Defense Reform with HASC Vice-Chair Mac Thornberry (R-TX)


Early life, education, and career

In the 1880s, Thornberry's great-great-grandfather Amos Thornberry, a Union Army veteran, moved to Clay County, just east of Wichita Falls.[1]

Thornberry is a lifelong resident of Clarendon, 60 miles (97 km) east of Amarillo in the heart of the 13th. His family has operated a ranch in the area since 1881. He received his Bachelor of Arts in history from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He then obtained his Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin.[5]

He served as a staffer to two other Texas Republican congressmen, Tom Loeffler and Larry Combest, and as deputy assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs under Ronald Reagan before joining his brothers on the family ranch. Thornberry has called President Reagan "...a great man and a great president, ranking in the top tier of all of our chief executives."[6] He also practiced law in Amarillo.[7][8]

Thornberry is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[9]

U.S. House of Representatives

Thornberry in 2000

Committee assignments

Committee on Armed Services (Ranking Member)

Republican Study Committee[10]

From 2015 to 2019, Thornberry served as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the first Texan of either party to hold this position.[11] The committee oversees the Pentagon, all military services, and all Department of Defense agencies, including agency budgets and policies.[12]

Thornberry lost his 2009 bid to chair the full Armed Services Committee to Buck McKeon, R-Calif., who had more seniority.[1] He served as vice chair of the full committee during McKeon's time as chairman.[13] After taking the committee gavel at the beginning of the 114th Congress, Thornberry spearheaded a major Department of Defense acquisition reform effort[14] that received bipartisan and bicameral support from House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ).[15]

Thornberry previously served on the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.[16]

On September 30, 2019, it was announced that Thornberry would not seek reelection in 2020.

Tenure and political positions

According to the National Journal Congressional Almanac, "In the House, Thornberry has compiled a solidly conservative voting record, though he has a pragmatic streak and is hardly the most ideological Republican in the Texas delegation. In keeping with his scholarly nature, his official website includes an essay explaining his philosophy and explaining his interest 'in continuing to push government to work smarter and more efficiently.'"[17]

From January 1995 to July 2017, Thornberry missed 140 of 15,276 roll call votes, or 0.9%, fewer than the median of 2.2% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving.[18]

Foreign policy

Thornberry was critical of President Barack Obama's 2010 arms control deal with Russia for precluding the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nations. But he has been more pragmatic than other defense hawks. He served on a bipartisan commission in 2007 that drew up recommendations for winning the war in Iraq with both lethal and non-lethal approaches, such as diplomacy and foreign aid.[1]


On domestic issues, Thornberry pressed for repeal of the estate tax and for tax credits to encourage production of oil in marginal wells.[1]


In 2010 Thornberry sponsored a bill to expand access to state veterans' homes to parents whose children died while serving in the military. That bill became law. In January 2011 he introduced a bill to help states set up special health care courts staffed by judges with expertise in the subject. The judges would serve as an alternative to juries that Republicans say are inclined to award unnecessarily large damage amounts in malpractice cases.[1]

Term limits

Thornberry consistently voted for term limits for U.S. Representatives, but did not intend to term-limit himself unless a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on all members of Congress had passed.[19]

Agriculture and farm bill

Thornberry pressed the House to pass a farm bill every five years in order to give farmers and ranchers more stability.[20] In 2013 he voted for the five-year Farm Bill,[21] which included annual cuts of $2 billion from food stamps, which would have been the largest change to food policy since 1996. The House did not pass the bill.[21]

Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012

In 2012 Thornberry introduced the Smith-Mundt Modernation Act of 2012 to amend the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act prohibiting the domestic dissemination of propaganda produced for foreign audiences.

Energy and climate change

In 2013 Thornberry introduced H.R. 2081, legislation to encourage production of all forms of domestic energy, including oil and gas, nuclear, and alternative energy and fuels.[22]

Thornberry voted to open the Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling. He voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, and voted against tax credits for renewable electricity.[23]

In July 2015, President Obama signed highway funding extension legislation into law.[24] It included a provision based on a liquefied natural gas (LNG) excise tax bill, H.R. 905, that Thornberry introduced with Rep. John Larson (D-CT).[25] The federal excise tax on LNG and diesel has been set at 24.3 cents per gallon. Because it takes 1.7 gallons of LNG to produce the same amount of energy as a gallon of diesel fuel, LNG is being taxed 70 percent higher than diesel. The new law "levels the playing field" by applying the excise tax to LNG and diesel based on the amount of energy each produces, which is how it is applied to compressed natural gas and gasoline.[26]

Defense reform

"In 2013, Thornberry led a long term effort to reform the Pentagon's acquisition programs. In 2016, he set acquisition reform as a key feature of the annual defense spending bill, including steps such as more experimentation with technology, encouragement of competition and clarification of intellectual property rights of Pentagon contractors."[27]


In 2011, House Speaker John Boehner selected Thornberry to lead an initiative on cybersecurity to combat the growing national security and economic threat.[28] The task force was composed of representatives from nine committees with jurisdiction over cyber issues. The panel recommended reforming a range of current laws, including the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act, which governs government security programs.[29]

In a 2012 column for Federal News Radio, Thornberry wrote, "If we can get an information sharing bill to the President, however, Congress should not consider their work done. We still have larger issues to grapple with, such as the role of the Department of Homeland Security and whether some industries will require a regulatory nudge to improve their network standards."[30] That year, the House passed comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, but the Senate failed to act on any of it.[31]


In 2015, Thornberry introduced H.R. 1186, the Synthetic Abuse and Labeling Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act, which would make it easier for law enforcement officials to take action against synthetic drug manufacturers, distributors, and sellers by closing a loophole that makes it difficult to prosecute them if they label packages as "not intended for human consumption."[32]

Interest group ratings

  • In 2012, the American Conservative Union Ratings of Congress gave Thornberry a 96% rating for the year. He has a lifetime score of 95%.[33]
  • The National Right to Life Committee consistently scored Thornberry at 100%.[34]
  • The American Family Association, Christian Coalition of America, and Family Research Council all consistently gave Thornberry a 100% rating on family and marriage issues.[35]
  • The National Rifle Association gave Thornberry a lifetime rating of 92% on 2nd Amendment and gun rights issues.[36]
  • Gun Owners of America gave Thornberry a score of 90% on 2nd Amendment and gun rights issues.[37]
  • The Disabled American Veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America both gave Thornberry a 100% score on veterans' issues.[38]
  • Both the Fleet Reserve Association and Non Commissioned Officers Association gave Thornberry a 100% score on military issues.[38]

Political campaigns

Thornberry during the 110th Congress

Thornberry defeated Democratic Congressman Bill Sarpalius in the 1994 general election, a heavily Republican year nationwide. He polled 79,416 votes (55 percent) to Sarpalius's 63,923 votes (44 percent). Two years earlier in a much higher-turnout election, Sarpalius received nearly double the votes that he did in 1994. The 13th has always been a somewhat conservative district, but on paper had been made somewhat less Republican in the 1990s redistricting. For this reason, Thornberry's victory was regarded as an upset.

Thornberry would never faced another contest nearly as close as his initial one, and was reelected 10 times, never with less than 67 percent of the vote. While voters in this region began splitting their tickets as early as the 1940s, Democrats continued to hold most local offices well into the 1990s. Thornberry's win began a wave of Republican victories in this region, and it is now reckoned as one of the most Republican districts in the nation. In 2013 the Cook Partisan Voting Index rated it the most Republican district in the country (R+32).[39]

Thornberry is only the third Republican to represent the district for a full term since Reconstruction. The previous Republican representatives were Robert D. "Bob" Price of Pampa (1967–75) and Beau Boulter of Amarillo (1985–89).

In the 2006 and 2008 elections, Thornberry handily defeated former intelligence officer and professor Roger Waun.

In the 2012 Republican primary, Thornberry overwhelmed his lone opponent, Pamela Lee Barlow, 47,251 votes (78 percent) to 13,643 (22 percent).[40] In the general election, Thornberry bested (91 percent) Libertarian John Robert Deek of Denton and Green Party candidate Keith F. Houston of Canyon (there was no Democratic candidate).[41]

In the 2014 Republican primary, Thornberry easily won re-nomination, with 45,097 votes (68 percent) to challengers Pamela Barlow's 12,438 (19 percent) and Elaine Hays's 8,860 (13 percent).[42]

General election results

Texas 13th Congressional District 1994[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry 79,466 55
Democratic Bill Sarpalius (Incumbent) 63,923 45
Total votes 143,389 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 1996[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 116,098 67
Democratic Samuel Brown Silverman 56,066 32
Independent Don Harkey 1,463 1
Total votes 173,627 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 1998[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 81,141 68
Democratic Mark Harmon 37,027 31
Libertarian Georganne Baker Payne 1,298 1
Total votes 119,466 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2000[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 117,995 68
Democratic Curtis Clinesmith 54,343 31
Libertarian Brad Clardy 2,137 1
Total votes 174,475 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2002[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 119,401 79
Democratic Zane Reese 31,218 21
Total votes 150,619 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2004[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 189,448 92
Libertarian John Robert Deek 15,793 8
Total votes 205,241 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2006[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 108,107 74
Democratic Roger J. Waun 33,460 23
Libertarian Keith Dyer 3,829 3
Total votes 145,396 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2008[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 180,078 78
Democratic Roger James Waun 51,841 22
Total votes 231,919 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2010[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 113,201 87
Libertarian John T. Burwell, Jr. 5,650 4
Independent Keith Dyer 11,192 9
Total votes 130,043 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2012[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 187,775 91
Libertarian John Robert Deek 12,701 6
Green Keith F. Houston 5,912 3
Total votes 206,388 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2014[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 110,842 84
Democratic Mike Minter 16,822 13
Libertarian Emily Pivoda 2,863 2
Green Don Cook 924 .70
Total votes 131,451 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2016[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 199,050 90
Libertarian Calvin DeWeese 14,725 7
Green H.F. "Rusty" Tomlinson 7,467 3
Total votes 221,242 100
Texas 13th Congressional District 2018[44]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mac Thornberry (Incumbent) 168,090 81.6
Democratic Greg Sagan 34,859 16.9
Libertarian Calvin DeWeese 3,144 1.5
Total votes 206,093 100

Later career

Thornberry in October 2022


Thornberry joined the CAE USA board of directors,[45] the National Defense Industrial Association Emerging Technologies Institute advisory board,[46] and the Potomac Institute's board of regents[47] after retiring from government service. In October 2022, Thornberry was appointed to the Defense Innovation Board.[48] As of October 2023, he serves on the Special Competitive Studies Project's board of advisors.[49] In March 2024, Thornberry was appointed to the board of directors at Booz Allen Hamilton.[50]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Mac Thornberry". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  2. ^ "Reflecting on previous work with presidential candidate, Thornberry stays neutral on Newt - Reporter News". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  3. ^ Gilman, Todd J. (September 30, 2019). "Rep. Mac Thornberry becomes 6th Texas Republican in House to announce retirement ahead of 2020 election". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  4. ^ Byrnes, Jesse (November 3, 2020). "Ex-Trump White House doctor Ronny Jackson wins Texas House race". The Hill. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  5. ^ "THORNBERRY, William McClellan (Mac) - Biographical Information". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  6. ^ [email protected], GREG. "Thornberry honors Reagan on House floor - - Amarillo Globe-News". Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  7. ^ "THORNBERRY, William McClellan (Mac) - Biographical Information". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "Thornberry talks issues, agenda with editorial board". Wichita Falls. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  9. ^ "Membership Roster". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  10. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  11. ^ "About Chairman Mac Thornberry - About - Armed Services Republicans". Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  12. ^ "Congressman Mac Thornberry". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  13. ^ "GOP Steering Committee Selects Rep. Thornberry as Next HASC Chairman". Defense News. November 20, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  14. ^ "Thornberry's Bill a Good Start on Acquisition Reform". April 12, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  15. ^ Freedberg, Sydney J. Jr. (April 21, 2015). "Thornberry Previews NDAA: Acquisition & Compensation Reform & NO New Reports". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  16. ^ "The Clarendon Enterprise - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  17. ^ "NationalJournal - Log In".
  18. ^ "Mac Thornberry, Representative for Texas's 13th Congressional District".
  19. ^ "Mac has voted for limits over course of 9 terms". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  20. ^ "Editorial: Farm bill brings crop of problems". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  21. ^ a b "House rejects farm bill as 62 Republicans vote no, area leaders vote yes". Archived from the original on January 9, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  22. ^ "Thornberry says, 'no more excuses' when it comes to domestic energy". Congressman Mac Thornberry. May 23, 2013. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  23. ^ "Mac Thornberry on Energy & Oil". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  24. ^ "The President Signs an Extension of the Highway Funding Bill". Archived from the original on January 21, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2015 – via National Archives.
  25. ^ [dead link]
  26. ^ "CNG Vs. Diesel Now A Fair Fight". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  27. ^ Richard, Cohen (2020). The Almanac of American Politics. Arlington, VA: Columbia Books, Inc. p. 1697. ISBN 978-1938939891.
  28. ^ "Congressman Mac Thornberry". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  29. ^ "House Republicans Propose Cybersecurity Incentives over Regulation -". Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  30. ^ "Column: Cyber inaction may be our Achilles' heel". October 24, 2012. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  31. ^ Jennifer Rizzo. "Cybersecurity bill fails in Senate -". CNN. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  32. ^ "Thornberry aims to crack down on synthetic drugs". Congressman Mac Thornberry. August 5, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  33. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  34. ^ "Mac Thornberry's Ratings and Endorsements - The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  35. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  36. ^ "Mac Thornberry's Ratings and Endorsements - The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  37. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  38. ^ a b "Mac Thornberry's Ratings and Endorsements - The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  39. ^ The Median & Most Partisan Districts, 1998-2014 The Cook Political Report. October 9, 2013.
  40. ^ "Republican primary election returns, May 29, 2012". Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  41. ^ "Big Country reps will keep their jobs, November 6, 2012". Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  42. ^ "Thornberry fends off challengers for House seat". Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "HISTORICAL ELECTIONS - OFFICIAL RESULTS". Archived from the original on July 16, 2017. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  44. ^ "Office of the Secretary of State, 2018 General Election, Election Night Returns". Texas Secretary of State. November 23, 2018. Archived from the original on November 23, 2018. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  45. ^ "CAE". Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  46. ^ "HON William "Mac" Thornberry". Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  47. ^ "The Hon. William McClellan "Mac" Thornberry, Member, Board of Regents". Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  48. ^ "Defense Innovation Board membership includes Thornberry, Roper, Gordon |". Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  49. ^ "Who We Are". SCSP. Retrieved October 20, 2023.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the House Armed Services Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative
This page was last edited on 24 April 2024, at 15:41
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