Thomas Massie

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Thomas Harold Massie (born January 13, 1971) is an American Republican politician who has been the United States Representative for Kentucky’s 4th congressional district since 2012.

In 2012, Massie defeated Bill Adkins in the special and general elections to represent Northern Kentucky in the House of Representatives. Before joining congress, Massie was Judge-Executive of Lewis County, Kentucky, from 2011 to 2012. He also ran a start-up company based in Massachusetts, where he previously studied robotics at MIT. He is an engineer by practice and education.[2]

Massie has been described as a libertarian Republican[3] and is associated with the House Liberty Caucus of Tea Party Republicans.

Early life, education, and business career

Thomas Massie was born in Huntington, West Virginia.[4] He grew up in Vanceburg, Kentucky.[4] He met his wife Rhonda in high school in Vanceburg.[4] His father was a beer distributor.[4]

Massie earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[5] Thomas participated in the MIT Solar Car Club, which took second place behind a Swiss team in the Solar and Electric 500 at the Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1991. At the time, the team set several world records including a lap speed in excess of 62 mph (99 kmph), and straight-away speeds in excess of 70 mph (112 kmph).[6]

In 1992, Massie won MIT’s then-named 2.70 (“Introduction to Design and Manufacturing”, now named 2.007) Design Competition.[7] It is rare that a non-Mechanical Engineering student wins this contest.[citation needed] MIT professor Woodie Flowers, who pioneered the 2.70 contest, mentioned that Massie watched this contest on television in seventh grade and wanted to come to MIT to win this contest.[8]

In 1993, at MIT, Massie and his wife started a company called SensAble Devices Inc.[9] Massie completed his Bachelor’s degree in the same year and wrote his Bachelor’s thesis, Design of a three-degree of Freedom force-reflecting haptic interface.[10][11] Massie was the winner in 1995 of the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventors,[5] and the $10,000 David and Lindsay Morgenthaler Grand Prize in the sixth annual MIT $10K Entrepreneurial Business Plan Competition.[12] The company was re-incorporated as SensAble Technologies, Inc., in 1996 after partner Bill Aulet joined the company.[9] They raised $32 million of venture capital, had 24 different patents, and 70 other employees.[13]

Also in 1996, Massie completed his Master’s degree (SM) and his master’s thesis was titled Initial haptic explorations with the phantom : virtual touch through point interaction.[14]

Massie sold the company, and he and his wife returned to their hometown in Lewis County. They raised their children on a farm,[10][15] where he built his own off-the-grid timberframe house.[16][17]

Lewis County Judge Executive

In 2010, Massie pursued the office of Judge Executive of Lewis County.[10] Massie won the primary election, defeating the incumbent by a large margin,[10] and went on to defeat his Democratic opponent by nearly 40 points.[18] Massie also campaigned for then-U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul, speaking to various Tea Party groups on his behalf.[10]

Massie resigned as Lewis County Judge-Executive, effective June 30, 2012.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives

2012 election

Results of the primary by county. Red indicates a county won by Massie, green by Webb-Edgington. Gray indicates a county that is not within the 4th congressional district.

In December 2011, Congressman Geoff Davis announced his decision to retire from his seat in Kentucky’s 4th congressional district. Massie announced his decision to join the race on January 10, 2012.[19] Massie was endorsed by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky,[20][21] and Rand’s father, Texas Congressman Ron Paul.[22][23] He also received endorsements from FreedomWorks,[24] Club for Growth,[25][26] Gun Owners of America,[27] and Young Americans for Liberty.[28]

On May 22, 2012, Thomas Massie was elected as the Republican nominee for the 4th congressional district, beating his closest opponents, State Representative Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge Executive Gary Moore, by a double-digit margin.[29][30] In his victory speech, Massie thanked “the Tea Party, the liberty movement, and grassroots Ronald Reagan Republicans”.[31] Massie was challenged by Democrat Bill Adkins in the general election, and was expected to win the election by a wide margin.[29][32] Massie resigned as Lewis County Judge-Executive, effective June 30, 2012, in order to focus on his campaign for U.S. Congress, and allow an election to be immediately held in order to replace him.[33] He was succeeded by Deputy Lewis County Judge-Executive John Patrick Collins, who was appointed temporarily by Governor Steve Beshear.[34] On July 31, 2012, Congressman Geoff Davis resigned from office, citing a family health issue for his abrupt departure.[35] On August 1, 2012, the Republican Party committee for Kentucky’s 4th Congressional district voted unanimously to endorse Massie as the party’s nominee once a special election was called.[36] A special election was called by Governor Steve Beshear to take place on the same day as the general election, November 6, 2012.[37] This meant that Massie would be running in two separate elections on the same day—one for the right to serve the final two months of Davis’ fourth term, another for a full two-year term.[38]

On November 6, 2012, Massie won both the general and special elections. He defeated his opponent by a wide margin in both elections.[39]

Tenure

Massie being sworn into office by Speaker of the House John Boehner on November 13, 2012.

Massie speaking at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC)

Massie was sworn into office to serve out the balance of Geoff Davis’s term on November 13, 2012.[1] Massie served on three committees, including the committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Oversight and Government Reform and Science, Space and Technology.[40] He became Chairman of the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, replacing outgoing Chairman Ben Quayle.[41]

Massie was the sole member of the House to vote “present” on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of Iran’s nuclear agreement, citing constitutional concerns that the treaties are not ratified by the House of Representatives and that he had no authority to vote for or against the nuclear deal[42][43]

Massie broke from the majority of his party by opposing the reelection of Speaker of the House John Boehner, instead casting his vote for Republican Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan.[44] In May 2013, he voted against the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which passed 390 to 3.[45] In December 2013, he was the only congressman to vote against the Undetectable Firearms Act.[46]

In March 2014, Massie voted against a bill to name Israel an American strategic partner. Massie voted no because this bill would have subsidized green energy companies in Israel. He said he would not support subsidies for American green energy companies, let alone foreign ones.[47] However, the bill passed by a margin of 410-to-1.[48]

In May 2014, Massie objected to a voice vote to award golf star Jack Nicklaus a gold medal recognizing his “service to the nation”, and demanded a roll call vote.[45] The vote passed easily, 371 to 10.[45] Through mid-June 2014, Massie had voted “no” at least 324 times in the 113th Congress – opposing one of every three measures that came to the House floor. Politico named him “Mr. No”.[45] In November 2016, Massie voted against an extension of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the only member of the House to do so.[49]

Massie identifies himself as a constitutional conservative. He believes in intellectual property and thinks it is necessary for incentivizing innovation. Massie has remarked that this is one of the areas in which he does not identify as libertarian.[50]

In 2017 Massie introduced a one-page bill that would abolish the United States Department of Education,[51] and cosponsored a bill that would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.[52]

In April 2017, Massie expressed skepticism over the role of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in the 2017 Khan Shaykhun chemical attack.[53]

On May 4, 2017, Massie was the sole House member to vote against sanctions on North Korea, which the final vote was 419-1.[54]

In July 2017, Thomas Massie joined Reps. Justin Amash, John Duncan Jr. (R-TN) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in opposing a bill that would impose new economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. President Trump opposed the bill, pointing out that relations with Russia were already “at an all-time and dangerous low”. He did, however, sign the bill.[55]

On December 29, 2017, Massie voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.[56] Prior to voting, Massie stated he would support the bill in order to cut taxes, but that he would oppose “new government spending,” despite the $1.5 trillion estimated to be added to the national debt according to the Congressional Budget Office in wake of the bill being passed.[57][58]

As of January 2019 Massie is ranked number 1 in Conservative Review Top 25 Conservatives list.[59]

On March 26, 2019, Massie was one of fourteen Republicans to vote with all House Democrats to override President Trump’s veto of a measure unwinding the latter’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.[60]

In 2019, Massie signed a letter led by Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Rand Paul to President Trump asserting that it is “long past time to rein in the use of force that goes beyond congressional authorization” and that they hoped this would “serve as a model for ending hostilities in the future – in particular, as you and your administration seek a political solution to our involvement in Afghanistan.”[61][62] Massie was also one of nine lawmakers to sign a letter to President Trump requesting a meeting with him and urging him to sign “Senate Joint Resolution 7, which invokes the War Powers Act of 1973 to end unauthorized US military participation in the Saudi-led coalition’s armed conflict against Yemen’s Houthi forces, initiated in 2015 by the Obama administration”. They asserted the “Saudi-led coalition’s imposition of an air-land-and-sea blockade as part of its war against Yemen’s Houthis has continued to prevent the unimpeded distribution of these vital commodities, contributing to the suffering and death of vast numbers of civilians throughout the country” and that Trump’s approval of the resolution through his signing would give a “powerful signal to the Saudi-led coalition to bring the four-year-old war to a close”.[63]

On April 10, 2019, Massie got in a tense exchange (also called “one of the most asinine moments in congressional history”)[64] with Former Secretary of State John Kerry during Kerry’s testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee when Massie called Kerry’s political science degree from Yale University a “pseudoscience degree” and called Kerry’s position on climate change “pseudoscience.” Kerry responded, “Are you serious? I mean this is really a serious happening here?”[65][a]

In July 2019, Massie was the only Republican among 17 members of Congress who voted against a House resolution opposing efforts to boycott the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.[66][67]

On November 20, 2019, Massie was the sole “no” vote in Congress on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which he claimed was an “escalation” with the People’s Republic of China.[68][69][70]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Environment

Massie has said that the evidence behind the scientific consensus on climate change is not compelling.[71] On the topic of climate change, Massie said “there’s a conflict of interest for some of the people doing the research. I think some people are trying to integrate backwards, starting with the answer and working the other way. I think the jury is still out on the contribution of our activities to the change in the earth’s climate”.[71] In 2013, he implied that cold weather undercut the argument for climate change, tweeting “Today’s Science Committee Hearing on Global Warming canceled due to snow”.[72] During a 2019 House Oversight Committee hearing on the impact of climate change, Massie suggested that concerns over rising carbon dioxide levels were exaggerated, asking a witness, former senator John Kerry, why carbon dioxide levels millions of years ago were higher despite the non-presence of humans.[73][74] CNN and The Washington Post described Massie’s exchange with the witness as “surreal” and “bizarre”.[73][74]

Massie supports dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency.[75] He voted to block the Department of Defense from spending on climate adaptation.[76] He voted to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, which imposed stricter requirements on coal mining to prevent coal debris from getting into waterways.[77]

In 2018, after French President Emmanuel Macron held a speech to Congress where he mentioned his desire that the United States re-join the Paris Climate Accords to curb climate change, Massie said Macron was “a socialist militarist globalist science-alarmist. The dark future of the American Democratic Party”.[78]

Health care

Massie supports repealing the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).[79] In 2017, he criticized the Republican-led efforts to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, saying the efforts fell “far short of our promise to repeal Obamacare”.[80]

Human rights

In November 2019, Massie was the sole member of the United States Congress to vote against the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act[81] and in December 2019 was the sole member of the House of Representatives to vote against a condemnation of the treatment of Uighurs in China.[82][83] Massie clarified on Twitter that his reasoning was that it is not the role of the United States to intervene in other nations’ internal affairs.[84]

Other

In October 2019, Massie criticized the jail sentence for Maria Butina, a Russian citizen who pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent in the United States. She had sought to infiltrate the National Rifle Association in order to influence a more favorable U.S. foreign policy towards Russia. Massie described her jail sentence as “Russophobia.” In August 2019, Massie said that former FBI Director James Comey should be put in prison instead of Butina.[85][86]

Electoral history

Kentucky’s 4th Congressional district election (2012)[87]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Massie 186,036 62.13
Democratic William Adkins 104,734 34.98
Independent David Lewis 8,674 2.90
Total votes 299,444 100.00
Republican hold
Kentucky’s 4th Congressional district election (2014)[88]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Massie 150,464 67.73
Democratic Peter Newberry 71,694 32.27
Total votes 222,158 100.00
Republican hold
Kentucky’s 4th Congressional district election (2016)[89]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Massie 233,922 71.32
Democratic Calvin Sidle 94,065 28.68
Total votes 327,987 100.00
Republican hold
Kentucky’s 4th Congressional district election (2018)[90]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Massie 162,946 62.24
Democratic Seth Hall 90,536 34.58
Independent Mike Moffett 8,318 3.18
Write-in David Goodwin 12 0.005
Total votes 261,812 100.00
Republican hold

Personal life

Massie operates a cattle farm in Garrison, Kentucky, with his wife Rhonda and their four children. They live in a solar-powered home that Massie built himself.[91][92] He is a Methodist.[93]

Notes

  1. ^ Kerry is misquoted in the linked source, but the text here is derived from the video.

References

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  92. ^ Huang, Gregory T. (May 17, 2012). “From MIT Entrepreneur to Tea Party Leader: The Thomas Massie Story”. www.xconomy.com. Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  93. ^ “FAITH ON THE HILL: THE RELIGIOUS COMPOSITION OF THE 113TH CONGRESS” (PDF). Pew Research. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 7, 2018. Retrieved November 18, 2019.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Steve Applegate
Judge-Executive of Lewis County
2011–2012
Succeeded by
John Patrick Collins
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Geoff Davis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky’s 4th congressional district

2012–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Suzan DelBene
United States Representatives by seniority
188th
Succeeded by
Donald Payne


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