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John Thune's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)

Office: U.S. Senate (SD) - Sr, Republican Majority Conference Chair
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John Thune has refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2016 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests. Historically, candidates have failed to complete our test due to the advice they receive from their parties and advisors and out of fear of negative attack ads.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

In response to the increasing unwillingness of candidates to answer issue questions, Project Vote Smart has researched Presidential and Congressional candidates' public records to determine candidates' likely responses on certain key issues. These issue positions, from the year 2016, are provided below as a courtesy to voters.

Pro-life Inferred Answer Abortion: Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Received 100% rating from National Right to Life Committee in 2014 (
  • "As a member of Congress, I have a 100 percent pro-life voting record and have consistently supported a ban on abortion with the exceptions of rape, incest, and endangerment to a mother’s life." (
No Inferred Answer Budget: In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Congress needs to create incentives for good jobs through a pro-growth tax structure. Comprehensive tax reform can make American businesses more competitive in the global economy and can benefit families who are dealing with a growing and increasingly complex tax code." (
  • "Despite this success, Democrat leaders and the Obama Administration have proposed increasing taxes on everything from soda pop to small businesses. Instead, I believe our tax policy should allow all Americans to keep more of their hard earned dollars as well as encourage individuals to plan, save, and invest for retirement." (
  • "While I was pleased that the tax relief package prevented an income tax increase on more than 400,000 tax filers -- or 99 percent of South Dakota taxpayers and 98 percent all small business owners -- it is critically important that the discussion in Washington shift to the need to rein in out-of-control government spending." (
Unknown Position Unknown Answer Crime: Do you support mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "The devastating effects of meth abuse can be seen all over South Dakota, particularly on our Indian reservations. Meth use in rural communities has many negative consequences, and local law enforcement in rural and urban communities alike need the resources to effectively combat meth trafficking and abuse." (
No Inferred Answer Economy: Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Formulating a budget will give us an opportunity to have a broad debate about Washington’s dangerous levels of spending and growing debt, which are hamstringing the economy and mortgaging our children’s futures. I stand ready to work across the aisle to make the tough decisions necessary to reduce spending, enact meaningful reforms to strengthen existing programs, and ultimately put our fiscal house back in order." (
  • "While I was pleased that the tax relief package prevented an income tax increase on more than 400,000 tax filers -- or 99 percent of South Dakota taxpayers and 98 percent all small business owners -- it is critically important that the discussion in Washington shift to the need to rein in out-of-control government spending." (
  • "While the president continues to cling to the same old failed top-down economic policies of spending increases and tax hikes, Republicans are focused on the future. Our budget will focus on growing the economy from the ground up. Unlike the president’s budget, ours will balance and will reduce runaway spending and waste to make a more efficient, effective, and accountable federal government." (
Yes Inferred Answer Economy: Do you support lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Tax relief accomplishes two important goals: it puts more money in the pockets of South Dakotans, and it grows the economy, which is why I have consistently supported legislation that makes our tax code simpler, fairer, and allows taxpayers to keep more of their hard earned money." (
  • "Thune believes that South Dakotans deserve permanent tax relief and a predictable and stable tax system, and he intends to keep working toward this goal in the next Congress." (
Unknown Position Unknown Answer Education: Do you generally support requiring states to adopt federal education standards? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "While programs like No Child Left Behind sought to bring greater accountability to our schools and increased resources for students, parents, teachers, and administrators, there are a number of reforms to the law that should be made." (
  • "I welcome President Bush's commitment to renew No Child Left Behind, keeping the core principles of accountability with the goal of providing children with the quality education they deserve. These goals, coupled with fiscal discipline, are important steps we should be taking to ensure a stronger and more prosperous America." (
Yes Inferred Answer Energy: Do you support building the Keystone XL pipeline? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "I went on Fox Business earlier today to discuss pipeline safety, the need to build the Keystone pipeline and how new trade agreements not only open up new markets for American goods and services but are important for our national security." (
  • "This increased domestic production capacity has led to the need for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have the capacity to transport approximately 830,000 barrels of oil per day to refineries throughout the United States." (
Yes Inferred Answer Energy: Do you support government funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, thermal)? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "With increased federal assistance for alternative energy funding, research and exploration, America has the resources and wherewithal to meet its own energy needs. We need to be vigilant in taking steps to increase domestic production and access to alternative fuels." (
  • "Transitioning to renewable fuels, such as wind energy, ethanol, and biodiesel, helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil while providing a much-needed boost to our economy by creating jobs and decreasing energy costs." (
No Inferred Answer Environment: Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "The Obama 'energy plan' will cap CO2 emissions and levy new taxes to be paid by the American people. Proponents of the bill will be careful to not call it "Cap & Trade", but the name change is nothing but political gamesmanship. […] American families simply cannot afford President Obama's cap and tax plan." (
  • "Policies such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas regulations and proposals to lower ozone standards and redefine the 'waters of the United States' will slow our economic growth and increase the cost of energy and agriculture production." (
  • "The bill I introduced would block the EPA from lowering the air quality standards until 85 percent of the counties currently in non-attainment achieve compliance with the existing standard. My bill would also require the EPA to consider the costs and feasibility of the lower standard, which the EPA currently does not consider. In South Dakota alone, a lower standard would cost jobs in manufacturing, natural resources and mining, and construction, and severely cut household spending by over $1200 per year." (
No Inferred Answer Guns: Do you generally support gun-control legislation? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "I strongly support the Second Amendment, which protects 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms.'" (
  • "While the ATF and other agencies may attempt to restrict the right to bear arms, rest assured, I will remain a vigilant advocate for the Second Amendment and for protecting the rights of South Dakota gun owners." (
Yes Inferred Answer Health Care: Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "However, when a new Congress convenes in January, I'm hopeful that we will finally get the opportunity to repeal and replace ObamaCare with policies that lower health care costs, increase choice, and allow South Dakotans to keep the plans they like and the doctors they trust." (
  • "The evidence is in, and it shows that the president’s healthcare law is broken. It’s time to repeal Obamacare and replace it with real healthcare reforms that will actually drive down costs." (
Yes Inferred Answer Immigration: Do you support requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "With all due respect, legalizing those who have no legal right to be in the United States will not be a 'boon' to American workers. Rather, it would only exacerbate the unfair competition American workers currently face as they struggle to find jobs." (
  • "We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws, and those laws must be respected and enforced. Our immigration system should reward those who play by the rules and come to America legally." (
No Inferred Answer Marriage: Do you support same-sex marriage? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "My position’s been consistent over time. I’m a believer in traditional marriage." (
  • "To protect marriages from activist judges, we need a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man and one woman." (
  • "President, I rise today to join the debate and express my strong support for the marriage protection amendment, of which I am a cosponsor." (
Yes Inferred Answer National Security: Do you support increased American intervention in Iraq and Syria beyond air support? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "We're dropping bombs in a foreign country. We've got 1,700 troops on the ground. This is a war against ISIS. This is a war to destroy an organization that is set upon doing great harm to Americans and to our allies around the world." (
  • "America must have a strong military in order to protect our national security in the face of danger when we have exhausted diplomatic efforts or are required to respond to an imminent threat. If necessary, America must be able to project power to multiple conflicts in different parts of the world simultaneously." (
  • "As long as there are forces in this world who oppose the democratic ideals on which our country was founded, we must remain vigilant as a nation in striving to preserve liberty and stand up to aggression." (
Yes Inferred Answer Social Security: Do you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • "All right. Senator Thune, I want to turn you both to the subject of Social Security. President Bush has been talking about private accounts, personal accounts, for many days now, many weeks, and, apparently, right now there's not even agreement among your own party, among Republicans. What does this mean for the president's initiative, for his proposal for reform? THUNE: Well, first of all, right now they are holding hearings up here in the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Grassley has convened hearings on the subject. Frankly, I think what he's saying is the correct approach, and that is that everything ought to be on the table. The president has come forward with some concepts, some proposals that he's put forward, and right now, what we're waiting for, is for the Democrats to come up with some alternatives." (


Candidate Answer

Official Position: Candidate had the Political Courage to address this issue directly.

Inferred Answer

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue directly, but Project Vote Smart inferred this issue position based on the candidate's public statements, voting record, and evaluations from special interest groups.

Unknown Answer

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue.

Project Vote Smart's Research: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as the candidate has submitted it. Project Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

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