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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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Due to a later filing deadline or other circumstances delaying entry into our database, John Thune did not receive the 2012 Political Courage Test.
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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 2010, are provided below as a courtesy to voters.

Pro-life Inferred Answer Abortion Issues: Do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro-life? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • NARAL Pro-Choice America. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of NARAL Pro-Choice America 5 percent in 2009. (
  • National Right to Life Committee. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of the National Right to Life Committee 100 percent in 2009. (
  • Planned Parenthood. 2008. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of Planned Parenthood 0 percent in 2008. (
  • John Thune. HR 3660. 106th Congress. To amend title 18, United States Code, to ban partial-birth abortions. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted YES on 4 May 2000. (
  • John Thune. S Amdt 3330 to S Amdt 3325 to HR 3043. 110th Congress. To prohibit the provision of funds to grantees who perform abortions. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted YES on 18 October 2007. (
  • John Thune. S Amdt 3896 to S Amdt 3899 to S 1200. 110th Congress. To modify a section relating to limitation on use of funds appropriated to the Service. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted YES on 26 February 2008. (
  • John Thune. Issue Position: Protecting Life. "As a member of Congress, I have a 100% pro-life voting record. I have consistently supported a ban on abortion with the exceptions of rape, incest, and when the mother's life is in danger. I will continue to fight for the life of the unborn here in Congress. I believe there is an essential human dignity attached to all persons, including the unborn. I have supported efforts in Congress to end partial-birth abortion, stop federally funded abortions, and to prevent unethical research on embryos and the use of human cloning. Please know that I will continue to fight hard in Congress to promote life in this nation." (
  • John Thune. Thune Comments on Supreme Court Ruling. 18 April 2007. "Today's ruling by the Supreme Court is a major triumph in the battle to protect life in this country. I thank the Justices who ruled in support of the Partial Birth Abortion ban, which seeks to finally put an end to this gruesome and brutal procedure. As a nation, we have come a long way in protecting the unborn since the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. However, we still have a long way to go in the fight. I am pleased that my colleagues and I in the United States Senate were able to confirm two excellent additions to the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, who played an important role in today's decision to protect the unborn." (
Yes Inferred Answer Budget, Spending, and Tax Issues: Do you support the elimination of the federal estate tax? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • National Taxpayers Union. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of the National Taxpayers Union 91 percent in 2009. (
  • John Thune. Thune Statement on Defeat of Death Tax Repeal. 8 June 2006. "Today I voted in support of permanently repealing the unfair death tax that burdens South Dakota's family farmers and small business owners. Not only does this tax devastate family farms and businesses, it hits them at the worst time, when they are dealing with the loss of a loved one. We need to be putting in place incentives for our young people to keep rural America alive and strong. The death tax is an incentive for exactly the opposite effect. It can help push young people away from carrying on the family business in rural places. The defeat of this bill will effectively return the death tax to the exorbitant rate of 55 percent. This is a real disappointment for farmers, ranchers and small business owners across South Dakota who were counting on the Senate to do the right thing for them and their families. It is simply unfair for death to be a taxable event, and I will continue to work in Congress to see a permanent end to this unfair tax." (
  • John Thune. Working to Address the Death Tax. 14 March 2008. "The U.S. Senate spent a week in mid-March debating the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution. This annual exercise seeks to establish a framework for the upcoming year's funding levels for federal programs, including the expected levels of tax revenues that allow the federal government to operate. It is said that nothing is certain in life, except death and taxes. If Congress does not act to permanently reform the estate tax, these two inevitabilities will continue to be linked for the heirs to a rapidly growing number of South Dakota farms, ranches, and small businesses that would be impacted by the death tax." (
Yes Inferred Answer Budget, Spending, and Tax Issues: Do you support using government funds in an effort to stimulate and improve the economy? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • John Thune. Real Economic Recovery Will Be Driven By Private Job Growth. 2 April 2010. "In reality, the only jobs that the government can create are jobs within the government?Instead of rushing out to 'create jobs,' the government should adopt policies that promote private economic growth." (
  • John Thune. Thune Introduces Common Sense Budget Reform Bill. 27 July 2010. "By imposing strict new limits on federal spending, reforming the budget process, and creating a new standing committee of Congress for budget deficit reduction, Congress can prove to the American people that it is serious about cutting spending and growing our economy." (
  • Club for Growth. 2008. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of the Club for Growth 82 percent in 2008. (
  • John Thune. Thune Calls for TARP Termination, Not Endless Slush Fund. 8 December 2009. "Although only a fraction of the money from the nearly $800 billion stimulus bill passed earlier this year has been spent, Democrats in Congress are already looking for ways to spend more,' said Thune. 'TARP, which has strayed far from what Congress intended, has been a de facto slush fund for months now, and any proposal to spend these funds on new government programs would make it official. Our national debt is growing at an alarming rate, but Congressional Democrats are more interested in spending taxpayer money and running up our debt than addressing our nation's long term fiscal health.' Last month Senator Thune introduced a bill that would prohibit the Treasury Department from extending TARP after it is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2009. The original legislation creating TARP allows the Treasury Secretary to extend the program if it is deemed necessary; Senator Thune's new bill would strike that portion of the original bill. In June, Senator Thune introduced the Government Ownership Exit Plan Act, which would require the federal government to sell its ownership interests in private companies by the summer of 2010. 'TARP was intended to prevent the collapse of our financial markets. Now that the crisis is behind us, it is time for taxpayer money to be returned and to turn off the spigot to the TARP slush fund.' added Thune." (
  • John Thune. HR 1. 111th Congress. Making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted NO on 13 February 2009. (
  • John Thune. HR 1424. 111th Congress. To provide authority for the Federal Government to purchase and insure certain types of troubled assets for the purposes of providing stability to and preventing disruption in the economy and financial system and protecting taxpayers, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, to provide individual income tax relief, and for other purposes. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted YES on 10 March 2008. (
  • John Thune. Op-Ed: Growing National Debt Reaches Record Level. 11 June 2010. "My proposal is a common sense one: slash wasteful spending and pass true tax relief. My deficit-reducing proposal is a step toward creating jobs and improving the economy by keeping taxes low, and reining in Washington's runaway spending. Across South Dakota, people have had to tighten their belts-the federal government should too. Instead of more dangerous deficit spending, Congress must begin to listen to the people and finally put an end to the wasteful spending it has become known for." (
  • John Thune. Thune Comments on Senate-Passed Economic Recovery Package. 1 October 2008. "It would have been easy to do the 'politically popular' thing and vote against this bill, but for me it would not have been the responsible thing to do. I'm sure those who voted against this package have their reasons, but the sober facts are that without intervention, our credit markets will freeze, our economy will grind to a halt, and the impact will be severe and felt by every South Dakotan. To be clear, this legislation is not intended to bail out Wall Street, but rather insulate main streets across South Dakota and the country. I am frustrated that the government is being forced into this position, but the authority this bill provides is temporary. It also ensures strong oversight and strong taxpayer protections and it prevents Wall Street executives from walking away from their failed companies with golden parachutes. This is not money we are just throwing away, we are investing this money in assets that will later be sold, which means the government potentially stands to make a good portion, if not all of it back in the long run, while calming the uncertain financial waters we are now battling." (
Yes Inferred Answer Business and Employment Issues: Do you support privatizing elements of Social Security? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • John Thune. CNN Inside Politics - Transcript. 27 April 2005. "WOODRUFF: 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." (
  • John Thune. FNC FOX News Sunday - Transcript. 29 January 2006. "Congress and the administration, the president, are committed to fiscal discipline. The big problem that we've got are the entitlement programs that are exploding and over the course of the next 10 years have to be addressed. The president tried to address one of those last year with Social Security but got no cooperation from the Democrats. We will continue to lead on fiscal discipline. As Mike said, that is what the Republican Party is about. That is what the American people look for us to do. And we will deliver." (
Yes Inferred Answer Crime Issues: Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants. 2005-2006. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of the Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants 20 percent in 2005-2006. (
  • John Thune. H Amdt 497 to HR 2181. 105th Congress. An amendment to add a new section which provides that in further consideration of death sentence recommendations, life imprisonment shall be imposed instead, if the court has any doubt that a defendent actually committed the offense. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted NO on 25 February 1998. (
Yes Inferred Answer Education Issues: Do you support federal education standards and testing requirements for K-12 students? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Home School Legal Defense Association. 1999-2000. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of the Home School Legal Defense Association 60 percent in 1999-2000. (
  • John Thune. HR 1. 107th Congress. To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted YES on 23 May 2001. (
  • John Thune. Issue Position: Education. "The "No Child Left Behind Act" has refocused our country on greater accountability and achievement in our elementary and secondary schools, but there is much more that can be done. I believe in the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act. I also believe that as Congress debates its reauthorization, we will have an important opportunity to strengthen and improve the law for future generations. Without a doubt, South Dakota's rural schools have unique needs. That is why I continue to support education proposals that give schools the necessary resources and flexibility while keeping them accountable to taxpayers, parents and students." (
  • John Thune. Thune Statement on 2007 State of the Union Address. 23 January 2007. "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." (
No Inferred Answer Environment and Energy Issues: Do you support enacting environmental regulations aimed at reducing the effects of climate change? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • Environment America. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of Environment America 0 percent in 2009. (
  • John Thune. S Amdt 4825 to S 3036. 110th Congress. In the nature of a substitute. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted NOfor cloture on 6 June 2008. (
  • John Thune signed Americans For Prosperity: No Climate Tax. 2010. (
  • John Thune. Climate Change. 5 June 2008. "There are changes going on in our climate, on our planet, some of which we can explain and some of which we cannot explain." (
  • John Thune. Thune Comments on New EPA Energy Tax. 13 May 2010. "As expected, the Obama administration's EPA has laid out a policy that will result in what amounts to a backdoor tax on energy, with a disproportionate burden being carried by the Midwest. Energy intensive industries like power production will be hardest hit but ethanol producers and agriculture will also face additional taxes, jeopardizing jobs and driving up energy prices for all consumers. The EPA is using a decades old law to impose a greenhouse gas tax on American businesses and families without any explicit consent or direction from Congress on the issue. Instead of charging ahead with heavy handed regulations, the Obama administration should be working to build bipartisan consensus and solutions on promoting clean renewable energy." (
  • John Thune. Thune Responds to EPA Endangerment Finding. 7 December 2009. "This decision lays the groundwork for EPA to undercut large portions of our economy. The Clean Air Act was written a long time ago to curb pollution from smokestack industries, not to regulate emissions from ethanol plants, manufacturing facilities, or even our livestock industry. Instead of unilateral action through the EPA, the Obama Administration should work with Congress to pass bipartisan energy legislation that promotes clean energy, lowers energy costs, and reduces our dependence on foreign oil." (
No Inferred Answer Gun Issues: Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • John Thune. HR 2122. 106th Congress. To require background checks at gun shows, and for other purposes. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted NO on 18 June 1999. (
  • John Thune. S Amdt 1067 to S Amdt 1058 to HR 627. 111th Congress. To protect innocent Americans from violent crime in national parks and refuges. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted YES on 12 May 2009. (
  • Gun Owners of America. 2010. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. In 2010 Gun Owners of America gave John Thune a grade of A. (
  • John Thune. Issue Position: Guns. "I strongly support the Second Amendment, which protects "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." During this session of Congress I have introduced legislation (S. 388) that would allow individuals who have a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This legislation is needed because some states refuse to honor concealed weapons permits from outside states. Certainly, the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution ensures that a drivers' license from South Dakota is valid in every other state - the same should be true when it comes to concealed carry permits. Studies have indicated that jurisdictions that allow the carrying of concealed firearms observe a decrease in crime. That is why I believe this measure will help to curtail crime. With the broad bipartisan support that this bill enjoys, I am hopeful that it will be adopted by the Senate in the near future. When dealing with crime, I believe that Congress needs to ensure that the criminal justice system removes criminals from the street, rather than restricting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens." (
  • John Thune. Senate Votes to Restore Second Amendment Rights. 26 February 2009. "The Supreme Court clearly ruled last year that the District of Columbia's gun ban was unconstitutional, and District officials promptly responded by passing new restrictions designed to circumvent the ruling. The District of Columbia has an extremely high violent crime rate, and its citizens are unable to legally defend themselves. I am proud the Senate acted to restore the constitutional right to residents of the District, which also sends a message to other communities with restrictive gun laws." (
No Inferred Answer Health Issues: Do you support a publicly-administered health insurance option? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • American Public Health Association. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of the American Public Health Association 14 percent in 2009. (
  • John Thune. Bipartisanship. 27 October 2009. "I think the next big issue in the debate over health care, Mr. President, has to do with whether--in the legislation that is being written behind closed doors--there is going to be a so-called public option, which is the phraseology that has now been adopted to describe what I would characterize as a government plan, and whether that government plan is going to have an opt-in for States, an opt-out for States, or whether it will have a trigger that will take effect somewhere down the road. All these questions, in my mind, belie the basic fundamental fact that what we are talking about is government-run health care." (
  • John Thune. CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript. 9 September 2009. "I think that they would use that as a way of getting to a gate -- a gateway of getting to a public option, a government plan eventually, so I think he can try and repackage it and try to re-label it but it sort of ends up in the same place. If he were to come this evening and talk about tort reform and talk about interstate competition and talk about small business health plans and talk about covering people who have pre-existing conditions and portability and issues like that, there are a lot of things that I think Republicans are anxious to hear from him about and hopefully things we can find some common ground on." (
  • John Thune. Issue Position: Health Care. "I believe we are approaching the need for comprehensive, bi-partisan health care reform to improve competition in the private market, make health insurance more portable instead of tied to employment, and to allow greater choices for individuals and families" (
Unknown Position Unknown Answer Immigration Issues: Do you support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • National Latino Congreso. 2007-2010. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of the National Latino Congreso 0 percent in 2007-2010. (
  • Federation for American Immigration Reform. 2007-2008. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of the Federation for American Immigration Reform 81 percent in 2007-2008. (
  • John Thune. S Amdt 4087 to S 2611. 109th Congress. To modify the conditions under which aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States are granted legal status. Project Vote Smart Summary: John Thune voted NO on 23 May 2006. (
  • John Thune. Thune Comments on President's Border Security Address. 15 May 2006. "Securing our border is vital to America's national security. I applaud the president for taking steps to stop the flow of unidentified individuals who are coming across our border illegally. I have every faith that our National Guard can have an immediate impact on our homeland security as they assist law enforcement agencies currently fighting this battle. The temporary deployment of our National Guard is a good first step as we work to permanently secure our border. America is a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws, and I urge my Congressional colleagues to put aside partisan differences as we work to pass common sense immigration reform that upholds these two long-held traditions." (
  • John Thune. Issue Position: Immigration. "I opposed the 2007 comprehensive immigration bill because it would have provided nearly immediate legal status to between 12 and 20 million illegal immigrants. I believe that, before we deal with those illegal immigrants already here, we must first secure the borders of our country to effectively cut off the flood of illegal immigrants. Otherwise, we will be dealing with illegal immigration on a much larger scale a generation from now. Immigration is an important and vital aspect of America's history. However, while we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. It is imperative that the problem of illegal immigration does not overshadow America's ability to reward those who choose to become a part of our national fabric by lawful means." (
Yes Inferred Answer International Policy Issues: Do you support United States military action in Afghanistan? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • John Thune. Thune backs Afghan surge. 27 November 2009. "'What he's trying to do in Afghanistan is the correct approach,' the South Dakota Republican said Wednesday. 'When you say, "This is the strategy," and (military leaders) say, "This is what we need to do to succeed," then you've got to resource that strategy, and you've got to have military forces compatible with its success. I support him there.'" (
  • Peace Action West. 2009. Project Vote Smart: Interest Group Ratings. John Thune supported the interests of Peace Action West 10 percent in 2009. (
Yes Inferred Answer Social Issues: Should marriage only be between one man and one woman? View Citations

Vote Smart's Research

  • John Thune. Thune Statement on Marriage Amendment. 6 June 2006. "Nothing is more central to the fabric of American society than the family. It is the glue that binds our communities, raises healthy children into successful adults, and preserves the values America was founded on. Yet today, the fabric of our society is under attack by anti-family activists with a narrow agenda aimed at dissolving the definition of marriage that has existed since the birth of civilization." (
  • John Thune. Thune co-sponsors Marriage Protection Amendment. 24 January 2005. "The tradition of marriage between one man and one woman is under attack in courtrooms around America. To protect marriages from activist judges, we need a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man and one woman. Marriage should be defined by the people through their elected representatives - not unelected, activist judges." (


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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