Thomas Roland Tillis (born August 30, 1960) is an American politician and businessman who has served as the junior United States Senator for North Carolina since 2015. A Republican, he served as Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives from 2014 until his election to the United States Senate.
In 2006, Tillis was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives representing the 98th district, and in 2011 he was elected Speaker. In 2014, Tillis won election to the United States Senate after defeating Democraticincumbent Kay Hagan in the general election. Senator Tillis has earned a 77.71% Lifetime Score from the American Conservative Union.
As of November 20, 2019, Tillis has voted with President Donald Trump's stated positions 92.7% of the time.
Following Trump's cancellation of Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") executive order, Tillis announced his intention to propose legislation to allow illegal immigrants, who arrived before January 1, 2012 and are under the age of 16 ("Dreamers"), legal status and allow them to remain in the US for five years with a pathway to citizenship. The proposal would grant high school graduates without a serious criminal record conditional immigration status for a five-year period. During that time, if they earn a higher-education degree, serve in the military or stay employed, they could apply for permanent residency and, eventually, citizenship. About 2.5 million DREAMers would be eligible.
In March 2019, Tillis said about Trump's national emergency declaration, "I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress. As a conservative, I cannot endorse a precedent that I know future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies that will erode economic and individual freedoms." Tillis faced pressure from Trump and other conservatives to support the national emergency declaration, with conservatives floating the idea of a primary challenge against Tillis in 2020. In a reversal that surprised many in its timing and scope, Tillis voted the following week in favor of Trumpâ€™s national emergency declaration on the creation of a southern border wall, which allows Trump to take funding from other government functions in order to spend them on a border wall.
In 2014, Tillis said that climate change is not a fact, and in 2015, voted against an amendment that said human activity is a contributor. In 2018, Tillis said that human activity was a contributing factor to climate change.
In 2017, Tillis was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Tillis has received over $260,000 from oil, gas, and coal interests since 2012.
In February 2019, in response to reports of the EPA intending to decide against setting drinking water limits for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as part of an upcoming national strategy to manage the aforementioned class of chemicals, Tillis was one of twenty senators to sign a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler calling on the agency "to develop enforceable federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, as well as institute immediate actions to protect the public from contamination from additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)."
Tillis has an "A+" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). In 2014, the NRA endorsed him for his senate run. As of 2017, Tillis was the fourth most funded recipient by the NRA, totaling $4,418,012 in donations.
In response to the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Tillis voted for two Republican-backed bills, neither which passed the senate. One bill would have expanded background checks and the other would have delayed gun sales for 72 hours for individuals on the terrorist watchlist while they were investigated by federal authorities. He also rejected two Democratic-sponsored bills, including the Feinstein Amendment which would have banned any individual on the terrorist watchlist from purchasing a gun and a second that would have required background checks at gun shows and during online sales.
In 2012, then-Speaker Tillis supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage as occurring between one man and one woman. This measure ultimately passed. Following the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage, Tillis announced that he would oppose the ruling in his role as Speaker. This stance was relatively unique among major elected North Carolina Republican officials at the time, as even then-Governor Pat McCrory accepted the ruling.
In 2015, shortly after his inauguration to the Senate, Tillis voted in favor of an amendment to a non-binding resolution that would allow same-sex married couples living in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage to have access to government resources. The possible contradiction between this vote and his earlier stances have led some to criticize Tillis as being both "for and against" same sex marriage.
Tillis opposes net neutrality.
In April 2018, following the FBI raid on the hotel room and offices of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, Tillis, together with Cory Booker, Chris Coons, and Lindsey Graham, introduced new legislation to "limit President Trump's ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller". Termed the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, the legislation would allow any special counsel, in this case Mueller, receive an "expedited judicial review" in the 10 days following being dismissed to determine if said dismissal was suitable. If negative, the special counsel would be reinstated. At the same time, according to The Hill, the bill would "codify regulations" that a special counsel could only be fired by a senior Justice Department official, while having to provide reasons in writing.
In May 2019, amid a potential primary challenge, Tillis opposed the decision of the Senate Intelligence committee, chaired by his fellow North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr, to subpoena Donald Trump Jr. to testify in front of Congress about his involvement with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. Tillis called on the Senate Intelligence committee "to move on." Tillis's comment came shortly after Charlie Kirk (of the pro-Trump advocacy group Turning Point USA) warned Tillis about the consequences if he would not support Trump Jr.
In January 2018, Tillis was one of thirty-six Republican senators to sign a letter to Trump requesting he preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement by modernizing it for the economy of the 21st Century.
In October 2017, Tillis condemned the genocide of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and called for a stronger response to the crisis.
Tillis criticized President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan's wide-ranging purges of political opponents following a failed July 2016 coup in Turkey.