FROM STAFF REPORTS
During a recent trip to Statesville, where he spoke with business leaders during a Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce luncheon and toured EnergyUnited’s operations center, Rep. Patrick McHenry agreed to answer questions on a variety of topics.
Here’s our Q&A with the Republican congressman from North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District:
IFN: You are serving your 10th term in Congress. What are your top three legislative accomplishments?
Rep. McHenry: Growing up in my dad’s small business, I witnessed the roadblocks entrepreneurs face when starting or growing a business. My career in Congress has centered around making it easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs to secure capital so they can live their dream, support their family, and provide jobs in their community. I am very proud of two pieces of legislation to assist in the growth of start-ups and small business.
In the 114th Congress, I authored the “RAISE Act” (Reforming Access for Investments in Startup Enterprises), which was signed into law, and provides the means for startup employees to sell their stock options to private investors.
Additionally, I authored the primary legislation to legalize equity-based crowdfunding in the United States. The crowdfunding language I first authored in 2011 was eventually included in the JOBS Act, which was signed into law in April 2012.
I am also very proud of my role in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017. I am passionate about minimizing the tax burden on hardworking families in the 10th District. This landmark legislation delivered for the American people and spurred economic growth. It is critical that we extend those tax benefits in 2025.
IFN: What are your policy goals for the remainder of this term?
Rep. McHenry: As the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, I’m focused on combatting the onslaught of overreaching regulations from the Biden Administration that weaken our economy, surrender our global competitiveness, and harm consumers. President Biden’s weaponized financial regulators are pushing a sweeping agenda that prioritizes progressive policy goals over sound financial management. The President’s hand-selected banking regulators are advancing rules that would starve small businesses and families of access to credit at a time when they’re already struggling to make ends meet under “Bidenomics.”
At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is forcing through far-reaching rules that threaten to upend our capital markets—one of our greatest strategic assets—harming job creators and families saving for retirement in the process. In my leadership role at the Committee, I will continue conducting rigorous oversight to ensure regulators are acting in the best interests of our financial system and consumers.
IFN: What major legislation has the Committee on Financial Services been working on during the 118th Congress? Why is this work important to your constituents?
Rep. McHenry: Earlier this year, my Data Privacy Act was advanced out of committee. This much-needed legislation would modernize data privacy and security laws to keep pace with new technology and put my constituents back in control of their personal financial data. Technology has fundamentally changed the way Americans participate in our financial system, but also put their sensitive financial data at risk. I’m confident we will get this signed in to law and provide protection for the American people.
Also this year, the Committee has advanced 16 bills to facilitate capital formation, including three of my bills. Our capital formation agenda has three main objectives: strengthen public markets, help small business and entrepreneurs, and increase investment opportunities for families saving for retirement. The full House of Representatives has passed almost a dozen of those bills—including two bills I sponsored—with bipartisan support. Capital formation is critical to creating sustainable economic growth in this country. I am hopeful these bills will provide a path forward to strengthen our capital markets for better economic outcomes.
I am also very proud to have passed “The FIT for the 21st Century Act” out of Committee on a bipartisan basis. This legislation is vital to allow blockchain innovation to continue thriving in our country. Most importantly, this legislation provides a regulatory framework for digital assets to provide clarity and robust protections for consumers participating in the digital asset ecosystem. We need to enact this legislation to ensure consumers have protection and do not fall victim to another fraud like we saw with the failed exchange FTX.
In September, the Committee also advanced the strongest legislation ever considered by the House to target the Chinese Communist Party’s military-surveillance complex. We hear a lot of tough talk on China from folks in Washington, but under my leadership, the House Financial Services Committee continues to walk the walk. This bill focuses our energies on China’s ability to wage war, cutting off revenues and technologies to bad actors using our most effective time-tested tool—sanctions.
IFN: Your district lines have changed numerous times over the years. Does this create challenges for providing constituent services? How have you mitigated those challenges?
Rep. McHenry: The constant redistricting in North Carolina has certainly created confusion for my constituents and all North Carolinians. Redistricting is out of my control. What I can do is provide the best constituent services possible and that remains my top priority. I also make sure that I am traveling the district as much as possible to hear the unique needs of each county and community. I’m proud to work with an experienced staff who work diligently to resolve constituent casework and communicate with local leaders so I can best serve the 10th District in Washington.
IFN: Surely, you were optimistic about the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your constituents when you were first elected. What is your outlook now? Given the divisiveness in Washington and beyond, does it feel like an impossible job sometimes?
Rep. McHenry: I remain optimistic about the outlook for our country. Look, we certainly have challenges – but every challenge presents an opportunity to achieve a better outcome for the American people. Our system of government can be messy at times, but that is a feature rather than a flaw. Our open society allows for open discourse and disagreement, and that will always lead to a better product than a closed society with a top-down government. I have faith in our system and in the American people.
IFN: What are the policy areas where Democrats and Republicans have successfully worked together during your time in Washington? What opportunities do you see for bipartisan policy efforts today or in the near future?
Rep. McHenry: There is a great deal of bipartisan work in Washington. Unfortunately, it does not garner the same interest as the fights and is rarely reported on. I always seek bipartisan agreement wherever possible and this Congress, I’ve helped achieve consensus among Republicans and Democrats on capital formation and digital assets legislation.
Looking forward, I believe there is growing bipartisan agreement around the need to confront China. While I would like to see more out of the Biden Administration, the one area of common ground between this administration and the Trump Administration is China. We still have differences about the best way to tackle the Chinese Communist Party, but there is broad recognition that they are an existential threat to the future of our country, and we need to be prepared to take them on, economically and militarily.
IFN: Do you see any common ground on gun control legislation? Is there a common-sense way to get guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens?
Rep. McHenry: People who intend to do harm to others will always find a means to their end. We need more conversations centered around the mental health crisis in our country which can help address the root causes of the violence we are seeing.
IFN: Is it possible to hit the reset button and for Democrats and Republicans to work together on any of the major issues that divide the parties? What would it take to make that happen?
Rep. McHenry: Democrats and Republicans have very real differences on a variety of issues, but I think there are areas of agreement where we can move the ball forward for the American people. However, I have yet to see my Democrat colleagues confront serious problems we all know exist, like the crisis at our Southern border. We need leaders in both parties who are willing to take political risk to confront the big issues in our country.
IFN: Several GOP presidential candidates have expressed their support for abolishing the federal Department of Education. Do you support this proposal? Why or why not?
Rep. McHenry: Our students are best served by education that is controlled to the greatest degree possible at the local level. I have co-sponsored legislation to allow states to opt out of federal education requirements and receive federal funding as block grants, allowing states to tailor education to the students’ needs. In the aftermath of COVID, it is clear to more Americans than ever that local control of education is in the best interest of our children.
IFN: After Roe v. Wade was reversed, many states, including North Carolina, passed strict laws regulating abortion and other states codified laws protecting abortion rights. Do you think there should be one federal law regulating abortion? Some GOP presidential candidates support banning all abortions after six weeks and others have said 15 weeks? As a lawmaker, what restrictions would you support?
Rep. McHenry: The Supreme Court rightfully returned this decision where it belongs – to the individual states. I am proud of my record as a pro-life legislator and hope more states will defend the right to life.
IFN: Many of your constituents remain concerned about inflation and rising interest rates. What role can Congress play in addressing this?
Rep. McHenry: Washington must reign in out-of-control spending. For too long, the federal government has spent too much, and the Biden Administration’s signature legislative achievements—The American Rescue Plan and The Inflation Reduction Act—enacted in the previous Congress lit the fuse on the runaway inflation that my constituents are suffering under.
Despite a Democrat in the White House and a Democrat-controlled Senate, House Republicans negotiated spending limits in my legislation – the Fiscal Responsibility Act – to ensure we spend less this year than last year. But we have more work ahead to kick Washington’s spending habit. House Republicans will continue working through the appropriations process to responsibly fund the government and get our spending under control.
IFN: Former President Trump is facing state and federal charges in multiple jurisdictions. If he is the GOP nominee, will you support his candidacy?
Rep. McHenry: Elections are decided by the American people, not by elected officials or talking heads. Republican primary voters will make their choice on who will face off against Joe Biden. I look forward to supporting the Republican nominee so we can end President Biden’s disastrous presidency and get this country moving in the right direction again.
IFN: What is your assessment of what happened in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021? Do you believe the Justice Department’s prosecutorial efforts against those who breached the U.S. Capitol Building are justified? Are the prison sentences appropriate and necessary to deter other attacks on our Democratic process?
Rep. McHenry: The violence that occurred on January 6, 2021, was not acceptable, and I am grateful for law enforcement who helped restore order and protected those inside the building. Peaceful protest is always the best way to express the real frustration many felt then and still feel today.
The Department of Justice should prosecute those who broke the law that day but should be mindful of overzealous prosecution in pursuit of sending a message. House Republicans will continue to provide vigorous oversight of the Department of Justice to ensure we have an equitable system.
IFN: Let’s shift gears and talk about your political future. Would you consider a run for the U.S. Senate if Thom Tillis does not seek another term? Is there a statewide office you would consider?
Rep. McHenry: My goal in running for elected office is to shape policy that will have a positive impact on my constituents and the American people. There is still much more work to do for my constituents, and I believe I am well-positioned to continue crafting meaningful, conservative legislation in the House.
IFN: As you have gained seniority in the U.S. House, have your thoughts on term limits for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate changed over the years? Should there be term limits for these offices?
Rep. McHenry: The Constitution gives the American people the opportunity to limit the terms of their representatives in Washington every two or six years. Our founding fathers designed the House of Representatives to be most responsive to the American people, and I am committed to being responsive to my constituents. I will continue to put my faith in the American people to send the person that best represents them to Washington.
IFN: What’s the best part about serving in the U.S. House? What’s the hardest part?
Rep. McHenry: Serving in the House is a privilege that I do not take for granted. Every job has difficulties, but I remain humbled by the opportunity to serve and approach every day as an opportunity to impact my constituents lives for the better.
IFN: What have you learned about yourself during your time in the U.S. House? How has this work changed you?
Rep. McHenry: I have certainly changed my approach since I was first elected to Congress. After my first two years, I realized that I was more of a commentator than a legislator. I decided to work on shaping policy, rather than pontificating about it on television.
IFN: Every two years you must have an internal debate about whether you should seek re-election. If your constituents could eavesdrop on that conversation, what would they hear? Has that conversation changed over time?
Rep. McHenry: My top priority is my family, and it is certainly a family commitment to serve in Congress. I am grateful to my wife Giulia and our children for supporting me in service to our community and country. Their commitment is vital to my ability to serve.
This job is not about me – it is about the constituents I serve. It is always important to take stock and assess the results I am delivering for my constituents. With so many suffering under “Bidenomics,” there is more work to be done and I am confident that I am positioned to deliver for the citizens of the 10th District.
IFN: Finally, you’ve spent almost two decades in Washington. Let’s say you were term limited at the end of 2023 and moved back to your district. What type of work would you be involved in and why?
Rep. McHenry: I studied history at Belmont Abbey College, and it continues to be a passion of mine. If I could choose anything to pursue, I think it would be teaching history. As a country, we should be more mindful of our history. It is not just important in helping us avoid past mistakes, but also providing perspective about current events.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in the October edition of “IFN Monthly.”