In the News
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Voters in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee had a choice in 2012 to elect the first US representative from newly created District 7 - and voters chose Tom Rice.
WMBF News Reporter Will Whitson: If someone had approached you five years ago and said 'You're going to be a US Congressman, what would you have said?What has he actually done since taking office in January 2013? Will Whitson followed Congressman Rice through a day in the life of a representative to check on his promises versus his progress.
Rep. Tom Rice: I would have said no chance.
But shortly after being elected as Horry County Council Chairman, Rice was campaigning to be South Carolina's first congressman from the 7th Congressional District.
Our day with Congressman Rice begins just before 8:30 a.m. His team's getting the office ready. Rice comes in a little before 9 a.m. and immediately heads to a meeting deep below the actual Capitol building.
"This is underneath the Cannon Rotunda right here. This is a Republican conference we're heading to; there's about 230 Republicans in Congress," Rice directs.
Thirty-four of those Republicans Congressmen - like Tom Rice - are new to Washington.
Will Whitson: Was this a departure from County Council?
Rep. Tom Rice: Oh my goodness, this was absolutely overwhelming for months.
Now Congressman Rice walks these halls with a friendly but aggressive attitude.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) comments, "He's done a great job. He's hit the ground running as a freshman.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-House Majority Leader) admits that his peers "Really, really have a lot of respect for the way Tom comports himself."
Rice made his way to Capitol Hill with three major talking points in his 2012 campaign - Interstate 73, the Georgetown port, and "jobs, jobs, jobs."
There have been a handful of major jobs announcements in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee in recent months like gunmakers PTR Industries, B3C Fuel Solutions, and Startek.
But the rivers that converge in the Winyah Bay where the Port of Georgetown sits still isn't dredged, and I-73 isn't here yet. "Let me start out by saying nothing happens overnight. There are a lot of big burdens that have to be overcome," the congressman says.
When the steel mill first closed down, big ships stopped coming in, and dirt and silt settled at the river bottom, clogging the shipping lanes.
Now the mill's back open, but big ships can't come in. Under current federal laws, the government can't fund a project to dredge and clear out the silt unless big ships are already coming into the port.
"He was very instrumental in the passage of our Water Resources Reform and Development Act," Chairman Shuster says.
"It allows the Georgetown Port to access that Harbor Maintenance trust fund, and Chairman Shuster has told me he will go with me to the Army Corps of Engineers and help me make the case for the Georgetown Port," Rice confirms. "First thing we worked on was 31 and 707, now we're moving onto I-73. We take it step-by-step. We have a checklist of things we need to get done."
Will Whitson: Where are you on that checklist?
Rep. Tom Rice: We're honing in. Hopefully we'll have that permit in the next few months."
So while we may not see a physical end result - I-73 and a working port in Georgetown - Congressman Rice says we're a lot closer than you think. "I feel we've come a remarkable distance in my one year in Congress."
But campaign promises are just one part of the job. Another big part? The meetings: meetings with other congressmen, meetings with Horry County leaders, and of course, meetings with the press.
Sometimes the topic of those meetings is Rep. Rice's STOP Resolution.
The STOP Resolution is Congressman Rice's take on the Executive Branch. It stands for 'Stop This Overreaching Presidency.' Almost 100 other Republicans have signed on to cosponsor the bill, and if it passes, it means President Obama could be facing a civil suit.
"When the President gets up and says 'I'm not gonna wait on Congress to approve my agenda, I'm going to approve it whether they like it or not,' that angers people. What can we do short of impeachment?" Rep. Rice asks.
On his congressional website, Rep Rice cites presidential mandates like the waiver of welfare work requirements and a one year extension of insurance policies deemed 'substandard' as his grounds for the resolution, which still hasn't seen a vote.
"The STOP resolution is not my primary focus here. My primary focus is bringing jobs to this country and our district" Rep. Rice says.
We're halfway through Congressman Rice's first term. He's got to fight for his seat again this November. He promised a road, a port, and jobs to the voters, and he says his goals aren't far out of reach. If he were a student, he'd be one semester down.
Will Whitson: What grade would you give yourself in the year you've had so far, going into this year?
Rep. Tom Rice: I feel very good about it. I'm gonna let the constituents decide what grade I'm going to have.
Congressman Rice has a little space to catch his breath. March 15 is the deadline to file as a candidate in the primary election, and no Republican opponents have stepped forward. Only one Democratic opponent is in the running so far - Gloria Bromell Tinubu. She lost to Rice in 2012.
Congressman Rice says he's leaving his grade up to the voters. Check out the poll in attached to this story and cast your vote on the grade you think Representative Tom Rice deserves.
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Freshman South Carolina Congressman Tom Rice said he is gaining new sponsors by the day for a U.S. House resolution that would allow legislators to take legal action against the president for “unlawful” executive orders.
Rice represents the state’s Seventh District, which includes Myrtle Beach.
Rice told South Carolina Radio Network on Monday that the Stop This Overreaching President Act has more than 80 co-sponsors — a number that has grown since President Barack Obama’s State of the Union last week where the president vowed to work without Congress if members remain gridlocked.
Rice said the president has overreached his executive powers on several executive orders including a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, one-year extension of substandard insurance policies, waiving welfare to work requirements, and granting deferred removal action for illegal immigrants.
“He has no authority to do that … to come and waive portions of the law,” Rice said. “That’s a tax (for the Affordable Care Act). If the president has the right to waive taxes or parts there of … does that mean the next president can say, ‘I think the maximum tax bracket is too high and I’m going to waive that’?… If the president can modify the income tax system that way, what does that say certainty in our economy? It creates a vast amount of doubt. And it’s certainly unconstitutional.”
The non-binding resolution only needs the House to pass it. Rice said that, while impeaching a president is always an option, he did not want to take his resolution to that extreme.
“That’s a far more radical remedy than what I’m asking for. What I’m asking for is that the president comply with the law,” Rice said.
February 3, 2014 by
A dozen House Republicans on Tuesday pressed their leadership to move ahead with a federal lawsuit challenging President Obama's use of executive power.
Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), who first introduced the Stop This Overreaching Presidency (STOP) Resolution last month, said a formal legal challenge is needed to counter Obama's aggressive use of administrative authority.
??"The president doesn't have the power to waive the law," Rice said Wednesday.
The renewed push was made a day after Obama announced a series of new executive actions to further his policy agenda in lieu of action from the divided Congress.
The GOP resolution, which has attracted more than 70 co-sponsors, would direct the House of Representatives to file a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging four contentious actions Obama has announced in recent years.
The lawsuit would seek to void the Obama administration's decision to extend for a year "substandard" insurance policies that would otherwise have been canceled under the Affordable Care Act. It would also challenge the one-year delay of ObamaCare's employer mandate requiring companies to offer insurance or pay a penalty.
The lawmakers are also taking aim at Obama's directive granting deferred action in certain cases involving the deportation of illegal immigrants, as well as a waiver of welfare work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
The lawsuit would contend that each of those actions violated the section of the Constitution setting out that the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
??"It's not just an insult to the Constitution, it's an insult to the voters who elected a Republican House," Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said at a news conference pressing for action on the issue.
Rice said he had been in discussions with his conference's leadership on the issue, and was told it would be taken up at an upcoming hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.
Under the resolution, the House Administration fund would foot the bill for the challenge.
Criticism that Obama is overstepping his bounds intensified Tuesday night with Obama's pledge to move without Congress where necessary. Several Senate Republicans also warned that the president would face legal fights over any actions seen as excessive.
Those vows were echoed Wednesday in the lower chamber.
??"Last night we saw a spectacle of centralization of power," said Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). "It's wrong."
By Ben Goad
Jan 29 2014
A group of House Republicans is pushing a resolution to bring legal action against President Barack Obama for overstepping his authority in executive orders.
The STOP (Stop This Overreaching Presidency) resolution, sponsored by Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), targets Obama for allowing a year extension health care policies that were ended because of Obamacare; delaying the employer mandate for one year; deferring the deportation of illegal immigrants brought to the country as children and waiving part of the welfare work requirement.
“He’s got a pen and a telephone, it’s true, but we’ve got the Constitution,” Rice said on Wednesday. “The prosperity of this country arose from those freedoms and they must be protected.”
Republicans renewed their criticism about the president overstepping his constitutional bounds after Tuesday’s State of the Union address when Obama said that without congressional cooperation, he would move to act on his own.
“The President will work with Congress where he can, but when they are recalcitrant, he’s not going throw up his hands and do nothing,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “Instead, he’s going to use his lawful authority to strengthen the economy and the middle class. That’s what the American people expect, and that’s what they deserve.”
Rice said he’s spoken with the House GOP leadership about the resolution — which would be non-binding if it ever advanced, and wouldn’t need Senate approval — and a hearing is being scheduled in both the Judiciary and Administration Committees.
The resolution has 74 Republican cosponsors, ranging from the more conservative to moderate members. Rice held a press conference to announce it Wednesday with 12 other Republicans.
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) pointed to efforts by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to pass energy laws that have been ignored by the White House. He said Obama work with lawmakers instead of acting alone.
“This is an issue that affects the entire American nation,” Lance said.
Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) said it is important for the House to send a message and involve the judicial branch in any dispute with the administration.
“You cannot rule by fiat,” Miller said. “I signed on to this resolution because I have watched this president overreach.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said Obama should work with Congress.
“We have a president who once taught the Constitution who has now forgotten the Constitution,” Collins said.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said overreach by the executive branch is not a Republican or Democratic issue because it sets a precedent for all presidents.
“To suggest that he can write laws without Congress is an insult to the American people,” Scalise said. “Our country rejects the concept of dictatorship.”
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said the president should have watched School House Rock cartoons to learn that the executive branch doesn’t write laws.
“There is nothing in that cartoon that says the president has the authority to go around the Constitution,” Davis said.
By: Ginger Gibson
January 29, 2014 12:55 PM EST