Sam Brownback on Government Reform
Republican Sr Senator (KS)
State Supreme Court justices should be elected not appointed
Kansas is the only state in the country where the selection of Supreme Court justices is controlled by a handful of lawyers. Kansas, however, is grounded in the principal of representative democracy. Enough is enough.
The Legislature should put before Kansas voters a proposed Constitutional amendment for a more democratic selection process for our Supreme Court justices. We must have faith in the people. Here the people rule.
Source: 2016 State of the State speech to Kansas legislature
, Jan 12, 2016
Terminate failed programs like we close unneeded army bases
Sam is pushing for meaningful tax reform and an optional flat tax, a BRAC-like commission to review and terminate failed or completed federal programs, and to build market and consumer based solutions to health care reform.
He is a founding member of the Senate Fiscal Watch Team and strongly supports a balanced budget and reform of the earmark and appropriations process.
Source: 2010 Gubernatorial campaign website brownback.org, "About"
, Nov 2, 2010
Supports Constitutional Amendment to allow DC representation
Q: Do you support giving the District of Columbia voting representation?
A: I have chaired the DC Subcommittee, both the authorizing and the Appropriations subcommittee. I support the residents of DC the right to vote.
But there’s a way to do it and there’s a way not to do it. And the way to do it is to amend the Constitution, and the way not to do it is to pass something that’s unconstitutional. In the 23rd Amendment to the
Constitution, it gave D.C. the right to vote for president. But it didn’t give them the right to vote for Congress. And what you have to do what we have to do. And what I support is amending the
Constitution so they can have the right to vote. D.C. deserves that right. There’s a way to do it, there’s a way not to do it.
Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University
, Sep 27, 2007
Ok if church identifies candidates who favor its principles
Q: My church is currently under IRS investigation for “political involvement” due to my identifying politicians who support the destruction of innocent unborn children. Would you remove the gag rule from pastors like me & repeal the restrictions against
churches from expressing our biblical convictions for or against a candidate?
Source: [Xref Cox] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate
, Sep 17, 2007
- HUCKABEE: Yes.
- TANCREDO: Yes.
- COX: Yes. Let’s get rid of the entire IRS while we’re at it.
- BROWNBACK: Yes.
- PAUL: Yes.
- HUNTER: Yes.
- KEYES: Yes.
Supports 12-year term limit for Congress and judges
On the topic of corruption, I hope we would come back with a renewed commitment to support term limits as a way of dealing with some of these problems. One of the key things that we can do is to regularly change the people who serve in Congress.
I think this could be one of the most effective ways of dealing with corruption. We would have people who serve for 12 years in the House, and people who serve 12 years in the Senate. We should do the same thing with federal appellate court judges.
Of the more than 300 million people in America, there are more than enough qualified Americans to have regular changes in the people who serve in these important positions.
We'll get fresher ideas, better government, and less corruption if we do this. I hope this could be one of the issues we return to and push strongly in order to address the public's concerns.
Source: From Power to Purpose, by Sam Brownback, p.227
, Jul 3, 2007
Without reforming manners, US will fall from peerless power
In the early 1800s, Great Britain had no peer. It was a powerful nation, but signs of cultural decay were showing. Our battle today is similar to theirs. Our battlefield is the fight for life. The core question is, do we believe in a culture of life or
not? We certainly need a renewal--a reformation of manners--in contemporary culture.
The early 1800s Victorian Era [ushered in] a period of spiritual renewal which kept Great Britain strong for many years to come.
I believe we're at the same cultural
moment in this country. We can see difficulties in American society--the breakdown of the family, out-of-wedlock births, teen suicide. We are the greatest nation on earth, with no peer in terms of economic or military might. But which way will we go?
Will we turn toward a moral and spiritual renewal and revive the culture? I'm convinced that the key to our future prosperity is to rebuild our family structure, renew our culture, and revive our soul. We've got to have our own reformation of manners.
Source: From Power to Purpose, by Sam Brownback, p. 67
, Jul 3, 2007
Reduce, Reform & Return: smaller & less-intrusive government
In my campaigns for both the House and the Senate, I talked about my proposals to Reduce, Reform, and Return. That was my theme in each of those races. That meant reducing the size, scope, and intrusiveness of the federal government, reforming the
Congress, and returning to the basic values that built our country. In that last category, of course, was the belief that marriage is incredibly important and, sadly, under serious attack.
Source: From Power to Purpose, by Sam Brownback, p. 78
, Jul 3, 2007
Consistent supporter of tort reform
The Club for Growth supports major reforms to our tort system to restore a more just and less costly balance in tort litigation. Senator Brownback has been a consistent supporter of tort reform. He has voted for several measures to limit the number of
frivolous lawsuits and place caps on punitive awards, demonstrating his understanding of how lawsuit abuse harms the economy. These measures include:
Source: Club for Growth, “Second Presidential White Paper”
, Feb 2, 2007
- Voted for the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards
Act that limited the conduct of securities class actions under state law (Roll Call #135, 05/13/98)
- Voted for the Class Action Fairness Act in 2005 (Roll Call #9, 02/10/05) that sought to curb lawsuits by shifting suits from state to federal courts,
and by limiting attorney’s fees in non-cash settlements
- Vote for a bill that would place caps on damage awards in medical malpractice suits against obstetricians and gynecologists (Roll Call #15, 02/24/04)
Frailty of culture cannot be compensated for by government
A healthy democracy requires self-government on the part of its citizens; self government requires virtue, self-restraint, and adherence to a moral code beyond the letter of the law. If we do not cultivate the later, we will not keep the former.
self-government can only be cultivated, not coerced, it has been the work of culture-shaping institutions to encourage and equip individuals and groups to, on the one hand, exercise self-restraint and self-discipline, and, on the other, show concern and
compassion for others. The frailty of cultural institutions, therefore, cannot be compensated for by increasing the power and reach of government. The work of cultivating virtue is one of moral suasion, not of legislation. The Senate could pass a law
tomorrow requiring that we all love one another, but little would change. Law is a teacher, but it cannot effectively mold character. Without vigorous and vibrant cultural institutions, the development of democratic character will not occur.
Source: Building a Healthy Culture, Don Eberly, ed., p. xii
, Jun 3, 2001
Voted NO on providing a US House seat for the District of Columbia.
- The District of Columbia shall be considered a Congressional district for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives.
- DC shall not be considered a State for purposes of representation in the US Senate.
- Reapportionment [census-based House seats] shall apply with respect to DC in the same manner as it applies to a State, except that DC may not receive more than one Member.
- Effective with the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives shall be composed of 437 Members, including the Member representing DC.
- The State of Utah is entitled to one additional Representative pursuant to this reapportionment.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): I am cosponsoring the legislation to provide a House seat for DC and an additional House seat for Utah. Representation and suffrage are so central to the American system of self-government that
America's founders warned that limiting suffrage would risk another revolution and could prevent ratification of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held in 1820 that Congress' legislative authority over DC allows taxation of DC. Do opponents of giving DC a House seat believe that DC is suitable for taxation but not for representation?
Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I make a constitutional point of order against this bill on the grounds that it violates article I, section 2, of the Constitution. I appreciate the frustration felt by the residents of DC at the absence of a vote in Congress. According to many experts, DC is not a State, so therefore is not entitled to that representation. Also, one has to raise the obvious question: If DC is entitled to a Representative, why isn't Puerto Rico, which would probably entail 9 or 10 Members of Congress? [With regards to the seat for Utah], this is obviously partisan horse-trading.
Reference: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act;
; vote number 2009-S073
on Feb 26, 2009
Voted NO on granting the District of Columbia a seat in Congress.
Cloture vote on the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act:
[Washington DC currently has a "delegate" to the US House, whose vote does not count. Utah had complained that the 2000 census did not count many Utahns on Mormon missions abroad].
- Considers D.C. a congressional district for purposes of representation in the House.
- D.C. shall not be considered a state for representation in the Senate.
- Limits D.C. to one Member under any reapportionment.
- Increases membership of the House from 435 to 437.
- Entitles Utah to one additional Representative until the next census, and modifies the reapportionment formula thereafter.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BYRD: In 1978, I voted for H.J. Res. 554, that proposed amending the Constitution to provide for representation of D.C. [That amendment passed the Senate but was not ratified by the States]. While I recognize that others believe that the Constitution authorizes the
Congress to "exercise exclusive legislation" over D.C., the historical intent of the Founders on this point is unclear. I oppose S.1257, because I doubt that our Nation's Founding Fathers ever intended that the Congress should be able to change the text of the Constitution by passing a simple bill.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. HATCH. There are conservative and liberal advocates on both sides of this issue,and think most people know Utah was not treated fairly after the last census. For those who are so sure this is unconstitutional, [we include an] expedited provision that will get us to the Supreme Court to make an appropriate decision. It will never pass as a constitutional amendment. There are 600,000 people in D.C., never contemplated by the Founders of this country to be without the right to vote. They are the only people in this country who do not have a right to vote for their own representative in the House. This bill would remedy that situation.
Reference: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act;
Bill S. 1257
; vote number 2007-339
on Sep 18, 2007
Voted YES on allowing some lobbyist gifts to Congress.
A motion to table (kill) an amendment to clarify the application of the gift rule to lobbyists. Voting NAY would define employees of lobbying companies as registered lobbyists and therefore subject to the gift ban. Voting YEA would apply the gift ban only to specific people who registered as lobbyists.
Proponents of the amendment say to vote NAY on the tabling motion because:
Reference: Feingold Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act;
Bill S.Amdt.2962 to S.2349
; vote number 2006-080
on Mar 29, 2006
- Using the term "registered lobbyist'' will create a huge loophole. The Ethics Committee treats the actual listed lobbyists as registered lobbyists, but not the organization.
- So, for example, a company can give a Senator free tickets to a show or a baseball game, as long as a lobbyist doesn't actually offer or handle them. If the lobbyist's secretary makes the call, that would be permitted.
- If these companies can still give gifts, we won't have a real lobbyist gift ban. We won't be able to look the American people in the eye and say, "We just banned gifts from lobbyists,'' because we didn't.
Voted NO on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.
An amendment to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity. Voting YEA would establish the new office, and voting NAY would keep ethics investigations within the existing Senate Ethics Committee.
Proponents of the bill say to vote YEA because:
- We have heard from the media about the bribes and scandals, but we have heard only silence from the House Ethics Committee. One of the greatest travesties of these scandals is not what Congress did, but what it didn't do.
- The American people perceive the entire ethics system--House and Senate--to be broken. We can pass all the ethics reforms we want--gift bans, travel bans, lobbying restrictions--but none of them will make a difference if there isn't a nonpartisan, independent body that will help us enforce those laws.
- The Office of Public Integrity established in this amendment would provide a voice that cannot be silenced by political pressures. It would have the power to initiate independent investigations
and bring its findings to the Ethics Committees in a transparent manner.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
Reference: Collins Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act;
Bill S.Amdt.3176 to S.2349
; vote number 2006-077
on Mar 28, 2006
- The Constitution gave us not only the right but the duty to create our own rules, including the rules concerning our ethics. They are enforced internally by the Senate itself.
- The decisions made under this amendment would be no different than right now. The final decision will be made by the Senate Ethics Committee. All this really does is find a way to further publicize that complaints have been made.
- We have people accusing us almost daily of having done something wrong and publishing it through blogs and all that. I think we should be very careful in setting up another tool for these bloggers to create more charges against the Senate.
- I cannot support an amendment that either replaces the Senate Ethics Committee or adds another layer to our already expensive and time-consuming process. I urge the Senate to defeat this provision.
Voted NO on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads.
Vote on passage of H.R. 2356; Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Shays-Meehan bill, House equivalent of McCain-Feingoldf bill). Vote to ban “soft money” contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
; vote number 2002-54
on Mar 20, 2002
Voted YES on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration.
Motion to Table Schumer Amdt. No. 2937; To permit the use of a signature or personal mark for the purpose of verifying the identity of voters who register by mail, and for other purposes. Voting Yes would kill the amendment. The amendment would allow a signature to identify voters who register by mail, instead of requiring showing photo identification or other proof of residence before being allowed to vote.
; vote number 2002-38
on Feb 27, 2002
Voted NO on banning campaign donations from unions & corporations.
Vote to ban soft money donations to political parties and forbid corporate general funds and union general funds from being spent on issue ads. The bill would increase the individual contribution limit to candidates from $1,000 to $2,000.
; vote number 2001-64
on Apr 2, 2001
Voted NO on funding for National Endowment for the Arts.
This table motion would end debate on an amendment aimed at funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Support for the motion to table is a vote for NEA funding. [YES to table means supporting the NEA; NO means defunding the NEA].
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)80; N)16; NV)4
Reference: Motion to table Smith Amdt #1569;
Bill H.R. 2466
; vote number 1999-260
on Aug 5, 1999
Voted NO on favoring 1997 McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance.
Support of the campaign finance bill proposed by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Feingold (D-WI).
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)53; N)47
Reference: Campaign Finance Reform Bill;
Bill S. 25
; vote number 1997-267
on Oct 7, 1997
Require all laws to cite Constitutional authorization.
Brownback signed Enumerated Powers Act
A bill to require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws.
Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise explanation of the specific constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress. The availability of this point of order does not affect any other available relief.
Constitutional Authority for This Act: This Act proposes to establish new procedures by which legislation shall be considered by Congress and is enacted pursuant to the power granted Congress under article I, section 5, clause 2, of the United States Constitution establishing that each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.
Source: S.1319&HR450 2009-S1319 on Jun 22, 2009
Page last updated: Feb 21, 2017