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Pete Sessions' Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)


On The Ballot: Running, Republican for U.S. House (TX) - District 17


Official Position: Candidate addressed this issue directly by taking the Political Courage Test.

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, but Vote Smart inferred this issue based on the candidate's public record, including statements, voting record, and special interest group endorsements.

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, or we could not infer an answer for this candidate despite exhaustive research of their public record.

Additional Information: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position, from their answers or Vote Smart's research.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as candidates submit them. Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Issue Positions

For Presidential and Congressional candidates who refuse to provide voters with their positions, Vote Smart has researched their public records to determine their likely responses. These issue positions are from 2022.

  • Rated 100% by NAtional Right to Life Committee. (
  • "I am happy to accept the nomination of the Texans for Life Committee for my positions on Pro-Life policies in the Tx-17 runoff election. I look forward to working with them in Washington! #Life #RightToLife" (
  • "Proud to join 199 of my colleagues in a letter opposing any efforts to repeal the Hyde Amendment which has been a bipartisan issue since 1976. The federal government should not use taxpayer dollars to conduct abortions as this challenges many Americans' moral & religious beliefs." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 1 "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" (
  • "Balance the budget without any new tax increases" (
  • "Our rapidly growing national debt is one of the most pressing issues facing the future of our great country. The United States cannot continue to run huge federal budget deficits. Financing federal overspending through continued borrowing threatens to drown Americans in high taxes and heavy debt leading to a less prosperous future." (
  • Rated 93% by National Tax Limitation Committee. (
  • "That is why I have consistently voted to limit federal spending, reform entitlement programs, and am a co-sponsor of a bill that calls for the passage of the balanced budget amendment." (
  • Rated 10% for Alliance for Retired Americans. (
  • Voted against S 610 "Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts." (
  • Voted against HR 1280 "George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021." (
  • "My House Republican colleagues and I have undertaken the difficult task of passing legislation to reduce unnecessary military spending while ensuring that the funds that we do spend meet the resource needs of the U.S. military. We have also worked to help ensure that our intelligence gathering services have the tools necessary to keep our troops and homeland safe from attack. However, I recognize that these tools can be abused and will continue to fight to protect the constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties of the American people." (
  • Rated 100% by Center for Security Policy. (
  • Voted against HR 3684 "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act." (
  • "President Biden's COVID-19 Stimulus Bill will cost the American people $1.9 trillion—money we don’t have. $350 billion goes to state and local governments that forced lengthy lockdowns, suffocated small businesses, and the ability to make a livelihood." (
  • Voted against HR 1319 "American Rescue Plan Act of 2021" (
  • Voted against HR 5376 "Build Back Better Act" (
  • Voted in favor of HR 1 - Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (
  • "At 35 percent, the United States has the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the world. High corporate tax rates mean that companies have less money to invest into their businesses and employees and thus less money to invest into our economy. I believe that Congress should significantly lower the corporate tax rate in order to increase investment, create more jobs, and reassert America's competitiveness across the globe." (
  • Voted against HR 1319 "American Rescue Plan Act of 2021" (
  • "Students deserve an education system that prepares them to be leaders, not forces them to fit into an arbitrary mold created by bureaucrats" (
  • Rated 0% by National Education Association. (
  • "The Biden administration is trying to push their socialist agenda on the next generation and limiting parental involvement. Curricula in many school districts are teaching children that transgender lifestyles are "normal." They are also using outside organizations to force their radical far-left ideas on teachers, parents, and students across the country. Right now, we are in an all-out ideology war. Conservatives will not tolerate parents being lied to and shoved into a corner of submission. Republicans will promote parental involvement, abundant educational opportunity, and stop laws that take away parental rights." (
  • Rated 100% by American Energy Alliance. (
  • Voted in favor of HR 1119 - SENSE Act. (
  • "My Republican colleagues and I support expanding the use of hydropower and are working to make all hydropower officially recognized as a renewable energy source by any legal or regulatory standard established by the federal government." (
  • "Energy security is a matter of national security. I support an all-of-the-above energy strategy that stimulates innovation, development, and security. Reliable energy sources allow the entrepreneurial spirit of Texans to thrive and promotes freedom from unstable regions often hostile to the values of America. I believe the free market should choose winners and losers in the marketplace, not radical environmentalist who have constructed this Administration's liberal green energy agenda." (
  • "We need to focus on restoring jobs already lost from the pandemic. President Biden is wasting no time destroying American livelihoods. We already have good-paying oil and gas jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline, which was just canceled, would have provided thousands of jobs." (
  • "I applaud the @EPA for its important actions that will help #TX oil and gas refineries as well as fellow Texans who hit the road this summer. Read my full press release here: #EPA" (
  • Rated 2% by League of Conservation Voters. (
  • "The President's proposals to increase taxes on oil and implement a tax on carbon are a direct attack on American energy, families and businesses." (
  • Rated 92% by National Rifle Association. (
  • "As a lifelong member of the NRA and the Texas Rifle Association, I know that gun laws like those in Texas work better than gun laws like those in Chicago. I have and always will vigorously defend our constitutional right to keep and bear arms and will fight against this tyrannical President's insistence on eroding our nation's laws." (
  • Rated 0% by Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. (
  • Voted against HR 1446 "Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021." (
  • "The World's Greatest Healthcare Plan isn't full of onerous regulations, unnecessary mandates, or discriminatory policies. This bill empowers all Americans to make their own healthcare choices, save money in an account that is not use-it-or-lose-it, and ensures that not one person will be forced onto ObamaCare," (
  • Rated 0% by American Public Health Association. (
  • Voted in favor of HR 1628 - American Health Care Act of 2017. (
  • Despite exhaustive research, Vote Smart was unable to find information about this candidate's position.
  • Voted in favor of HR 4760 - Securing America's Future Act of 2018. (
  • Rated 96% by NumbersUSA. (
  • "That same seniority will help me also deliver on the key issues facing our nation: changing our immigration laws, building the southern border wall and balancing the budget." (
  • Rated 96% by NumbersUSA. (
  • "America has specific laws in place for immigration. I am for following the rules. Individuals can and should become citizens of the United States legally. We must secure our border now!" (
  • "Border security is a critical component of any immigration reform. We must gain operational control of our borders." (
  • "I have always adamantly opposed illegal immigration, blanket amnesty, or any other reward to those who have intentionally and knowingly broken our nation's immigration laws. Since the onset of President Obama's lawless executive actions, I have tirelessly worked to fight against the administration's unlawful, unwise, and unconstitutional executive amnesty plan." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 1698 "Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act." (
  • Rated 100% by Center for Security Policy. (
  • "The Obama administration's tactics against the Kim regime are not working, and we can't continue to jeopardize the safety of the United States and our allies. Instead of President Obama's so-called "strategic patience' plans, we must actually act and impose strong and strategic sanctions against this brutal dictator." (
  • "This bill made necessary and responsible changes to the Senate passed bill to ensure that Russians or foreign adversaries are not able to weaponize these sanctions against American job creators. In addition, as North Korea continues to grow their nuclear capabilities, I am pleased that we included sanctions on them to thwart the looming threat that they pose to our homeland." (
  • Signed a letter stating: "We write today to reaffirm the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The effort you have led to modernize the agreement for the 21st century is incredibly important and, in combination with the historic tax cuts that you signed last year, has the potential to unleash the American economy unlike any other time before." (
  • Rated 0% by Public Citizen. (
  • "Mexico and Canada are Texas' two largest trading partners and about 3 million Texas jobs are supported by trade with these two countries. I am pleased to see the leaders of our nation recognize the need to maintain a robust partnership and strong trade agreement among neighbors. From agricultural goods to manufactured products, like auto-parts, our nations not only benefit, but rely on, the wares we each produce. I look forward to thoroughly reviewing this proposed agreement and working with my colleagues to find a mutually-beneficial solution for North Texas and our nation as a whole." (
This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.
The Political Courage Test asks candidates which items they will support if elected. It does not ask them to indicate which items they will oppose. Through extensive research of public polling data, we discovered that voters are more concerned with what candidates would support when elected to office, not what they oppose. If a candidate does not select a response to any part or all of any question, it does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is opposed to that particular item.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning abortion.

a) Abortions should always be illegal.
b) Abortions should always be legally available.
c) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester of pregnancy.
d) Abortions should be legal when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape.
e) Abortions should be legal when the life of the woman is endangered.
X f) Eliminate public funding for abortions and public funding of organizations that advocate or perform abortions.
g) Other or expanded principles

Budgetary PrioritiesUsing the key below, indicate what levels of federal funding you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category.

Maintain Funding Status a) Agricultural
Slightly Decrease Funding b) Arts
Greatly Increase Funding c) Defense
Maintain Funding Status d) Education
Maintain Funding Status e) Environmental
Maintain Funding Status f) International Aid
Slightly Increase Funding g) Law Enforcement
Greatly Increase Funding h) Medical Research
Maintain Funding Status i) National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA)
Slightly Increase Funding j) National Parks
k) Public Health Services
Greatly Increase Funding l) Scientific Research
Greatly Increase Funding m) Terrorism Prevention
Maintain Funding Status n) Transportation and Highway Infrastructure
Slightly Decrease Funding o) Welfare
p) Other or expanded categories

Defense SpendingUsing the key below, indicate what levels of federal funding you support for the following categories. Select one number per category.

Greatly Increase Funding a) Armed Forces personnel training
Greatly Increase Funding b) Covert intelligence operations
Greatly Increase Funding c) Military hardware
Greatly Increase Funding d) Pay for active duty personnel
Greatly Increase Funding e) National Missile Defense Program
Greatly Increase Funding f) Programs to improve military retention rates
Greatly Increase Funding g) Research and development of new weapons
Greatly Increase Funding h) Troop and equipment readiness
i) Other or expanded categories

TaxesUsing the key below, indicate what levels you support concerning taxes, deductions, and tax credits in the following categories. Select one number per tax.Income Taxes - Family IncomeIncome Taxes - Retiree IncomeOther TaxesDeductions/Credits

Eliminate a) Less than $25,000
Greatly Decrease b) $25,000 - $75,000
Greatly Decrease c) $75,000 - $150,000
Greatly Decrease d) Over $150,000
e) Other or expanded categories
Greatly Decrease f) Over $40, 000
g) Other or expanded categories
Slightly Decrease a) Alcohol taxes
Eliminate b) Capital gains taxes
Maintain Status c) Cigarette taxes
Maintain Status d) Corporate taxes
Slightly Decrease e) Gasoline taxes
Eliminate f) Inheritance taxes
Eliminate g) Other or expanded categories
Slightly Increase a) Charitable deductions
Greatly Increase b) Medical expense deductions
Maintain Status c) Mortgage deductions
Slightly Increase d) Child tax credit
Maintain Status e) Earned income tax credit
Maintain Status f) Student loan tax credit
g) Other or expanded categories
MARRIAGE penalty


Yes 2) Should a married couple filing jointly pay the same taxes as if they were an unmarried couple filing separately?
No 3) Would you use Social Security surpluses to balance the budget?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding campaign finance and governmental reform issues.

a) Support public taxpayer funding for congressional candidates who comply with campaign spending limits.
X b) Increase the amount individuals are permitted to contribute to federal campaigns.
c) Prohibit Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions to candidates for federal office.
d) Provide free or low-cost television advertising to candidates who agree to voluntary campaign spending limits.
e) Ban unregulated soft money campaign contributions to political parties or committees.
X f) Prohibit non-U.S. citizens from making soft money contributions to national parties or party committees.
g) Require full disclosure of funding sources of issue advocacy commercials which appear within 60 days of an election.
h) Remove all contribution limits to federal candidates and parties.
X i) Require congressional candidates to raise over half of their campaign money from their home state.
X j) Require that unions give members the option of not having membership dues used for political purposes.
k) Support the federal government mandate that creates national voting system standards.
l) Do you support amending the Constitution to limit the number of terms that members of Congress can serve?
m) Do you support voting on-line?
n) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) to address crime.

a) Eliminate the use of the death penalty for federal crimes.
X b) Increase spending to build more federal prisons.
X c) Impose "truth in sentencing" for violent criminals so they serve full sentences with no chance of parole.
d) Support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released.
e) Support programs to provide prison inmates with drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
X f) Increase funding for community policing programs.
g) Implement penalties other than incarceration for certain non-violent offenders.
h) Require that crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, and disability be prosecuted as federal hate crimes.
i) Enforcement of civil rights should primarily be the responsibility of the federal government.
X j) Minors accused of a violent crime should be prosecuted as adults.
X k) Support programs that provide job training and placement services for at-risk youth.
l) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning illegal drugs.

X a) Increase penalties for selling illegal drugs.
X b) Support mandatory jail sentences for selling illegal drugs.
c) Expand federally sponsored drug education and drug treatment programs.
d) Decriminalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
X e) Increase border security to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S.
f) Eliminate federal funding for programs associated with the "war on drugs."
g) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning education.

a) Support national standards and testing of public school students.
b) Allow parents to use vouchers (equal opportunity scholarships) to send their children to any publicly-funded school.
X c) Allow parents to use vouchers (equal opportunity scholarships) to send their children to any participating school: public, private or religious.
X d) Support charter schools where teachers and professionals receive authorization and funding to establish new schools.
X e) Increase funding for block grants to states to help them hire additional teachers.
X f) Support teacher testing and reward teachers with merit pay.
g) Increase funding for computers and computer training in public schools.
h) Increase funding for school capital improvements (e.g. buildings and infrastructure).
X i) Eliminate restrictions on federal education funding, giving educators or local school districts more flexibility to design and implement their programs.
X j) Increase funding of programs such as Pell grants and Stafford loans to help students pay for college.
X k) Support federal tax incentives to help families save for college.
l) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding employment and affirmative action.

a) Increase funding for national job-training programs that re-train displaced workers or teach skills needed in today's job market.
X b) Reduce government regulation of the private sector in order to encourage investment and economic expansion.
X c) Establish empowerment zones in areas with large numbers of unemployed people.
d) Provide tax credits for businesses that provide child care for their employees.
X e) Encourage employers to offer flex-time scheduling, comp-time, and unpaid leave for family emergencies.
f) Eliminate any federal programs designed to reduce unemployment.
g) Increase the federal minimum wage.
h) Considering race and gender in government contracting decisions is appropriate for the federal government.
i) Include sexual orientation in federal anti-discrimination laws.
j) Continue federal affirmative action programs.
X k) Discontinue federal affirmative action programs.
l) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding America's environment and natural resources.

a) Strengthen the regulation and enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
b) Strengthen the regulation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act.
X c) Support opening a select portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration.
d) Support the U.S. re-entering the current Kyoto treaty process to limit global warming.
X e) Require states to fully compensate citizens when environmental regulations limit uses of privately owned land.
X f) Promote increased use of alternative fuel technology.
g) Strengthen emission controls on all gasoline or diesel-powered engines, including cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles.
h) Provide tax credits for state and local bonds to preserve open spaces, build parks, improve water quality and redevelop brownfields.
i) Support the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act prohibiting commercial logging in our national forests.
X j) Provide states and local communities with more flexibility to address their respective environmental problems.
k) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning gun issues.

a) Ban the sale or transfer of semi-automatic guns, except those used for hunting.
b) Maintain and strengthen the enforcement of existing federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
X c) Ease federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
d) Repeal federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
X e) Allow citizens to carry concealed guns.
f) Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks on guns.
g) Require background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows.
h) Require a license for gun possession.
i) Raise the minimum age for ownership of handguns from 18 to 21.
X j) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health issues.

a) Providing health care is not a responsibility of the federal government.
b) Implement a universal health care program to guarantee coverage to all Americans regardless of income.
X c) Support a Patient's Bill of Rights to define and enforce the rights of insured patients, including greater access to specialists and emergency rooms, wider choice of health care providers, and appeal mechanisms when claims are denied.
X d) Support a Patient's Bill of Rights which includes the right to sue when claims are denied.
X e) Support a Patient's Bill of Rights which includes the right to appeal to an administrative board of specialists when services are denied.
X f) Support legislation to provide prescription drug coverage under Medicare.
g) Increase research funding of the human genome to find cures for diseases such as cancer, AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer's, and heart disease.
h) Increase federal funding for training health workers to recognize and respond to the release of biological agents.
i) Prohibit the procedure of cloning human embryos.
X j) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding immigration.

X a) Decrease the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country.
b) Provide extra federal aid to states with higher numbers of immigrants for necessary medical and social services.
c) Prohibit states from passing laws that deny human services (medical care, education) to illegal immigrants or their children.
X d) Increase the immigration quota for computer scientists and other information technology workers.
X e) Establish English as the official U.S. language.
X f) Collect fingerprint data from all U.S. visa applicants which would be accessible to all federal immigration-related agencies.
g) Allow legalization for certain illegal immigrants working in the U.S.
h) Other or expanded principles

International AidIndicate which principles (if any) you support regarding U. S. economic assistance.

a) Aid should be granted to countries when extraordinary circumstances cause disaster and threaten civilian lives.
X b) Aid should be granted to countries when it is in the security interests of the U. S.
X c) Aid should be granted to countries that are close allies of the U. S. and in need of financial/military assistance.
d) Aid should be eliminated for any nation with documented human rights abuses.
e) Aid programs should be scaled back and eventually eliminated except for extraordinary circumstances.
f) Other or expanded principles

International PolicyIndicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the Middle East.Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the United States-United Nations relationship.

a) The U.S. should take military action against Iraq only as part of an international effort.
b) The U.S. should end the economic embargo against Iraq.
c) The U.S. should not continue to play a prominent leadership role in the peace process between Israel and the Palestine Authority.
d) The U.S. should support the formation of a Palestinian state.
X e) Other or expanded principles
X a) The U.S. should participate in United Nations peacekeeping missions only when vital U.S. interests are involved.
b) The U.S. should not commit military troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions.
X c) The U.S. should withdraw completely from the United Nations.
d) Other or expanded principles
3) Should the U.S. have full diplomatic relations with Cuba?
Yes 4) Should the U.S. recognize and extend full diplomatic relations to Taiwan?
Yes 5) Should the U.S. increase its financial support to Colombia for the "war on drugs?"
Yes 6) Do you support the cooperative threat reduction programs with Russia to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons? ___ Yes ___ No ___ Undecided
Yes 7) Do you support the recent withdrawal of the U.S. from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty in order to deploy a national missile defense system?
Yes 8) Should the U.S. hold nations accountable for terrorists who operate from their country?
9) Other or expanded principles
The U.S. should take military action against Iraq.

International Trade

1) Do you support the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)?
2) Do you support the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)?
Yes 3) Do you support continued U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO)?
Yes 4) Do you support China becoming a member of the World Trade Organization?
Yes 5) Should a nation's human rights record affect its normal trade relations (most favored nation) trading status with the United States? ___ Yes ___ No ___ Undecided
Yes 6) Should the President have "fast-track" authority to negotiate trade agreements?
7) Do you support the trade embargo against Cuba?
8) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding national security.

Yes 1. Do you support the President using military tribunals to try terrorist suspects when the President deems ordinary civil courts to be inappropriate or impractical?
Yes 2. Should the U.S. adopt higher qualification rules for student visa applications from nations known to sponsor terrorism?
Yes 3. Should law enforcement agencies be granted greater discretion to read mail and email, tap phones, and conduct random searches to prevent future terrorist attacks?
Yes 4. Should federal law enforcement agencies share intelligence data with local law enforcement agencies?
Yes 5. Should the federal government provide states with funding for homeland security?
6. Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding Social Security.

X a) Allow workers to invest a portion of their payroll tax in private accounts which they manage themselves.
X b) Allow workers to invest a portion of their payroll tax in private accounts managed by private firms contracted by the government.
c) The federal government should invest a portion of Social Security's assets collectively in stocks and bonds instead of U.S. Treasury securities.
d) Increase the payroll tax to better finance Social Security in its current form.
e) Lower Social Security's annual cost-of-living increases.
X f) Support a "lock box" measure, limiting Congress's ability to spend Social Security and Medicare surpluses on any other federal programs except Social Security and Medicare, until each program's long-term solvency is guaranteed.
g) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding technology.

X a) Continue the moratorium on Internet sales taxes.
b) Implement regulation of Internet content by the federal government.
c) Regulation of the Internet should not be controlled by the federal government.
d) Support government mandates to curtail violent and sexual content on television.
e) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding poverty and the welfare system.

X a) Support housing assistance for welfare recipients.
X b) Provide homeless families with apartment vouchers they can use to defray the cost of an apartment.
X c) Continue to give states and local governments responsibility for welfare programs through TANF block grants.
X d) Maintain current welfare-to-work requirements in order for states to qualify for block grants.
e) Restore food stamp programs to legal immigrants.
X f) Transfer homeless housing programs to states through block grants.
X g) Provide continued Medicaid benefits for those welfare recipients who have moved from welfare to work.
h) Require states to return any unused welfare block grant funding to the federal government.
X i) Direct federal poverty aid through religious, community-based, or other non-profit organizations.
j) Provide states with additional funding for Medicaid programs to alleviate increasing state budget deficits.
X k) Other or expanded principles
Also allow families of disabled children to stay employed & accept raises without losing access to Medicaid services.
In a total of seventy-five (75) words or less, please explain what your top two or three priorities will be if elected. Please explain how you would obtain any additional funding needed to implement these priorities.

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