Bill Thomas
Bill Thomas, official photo portrait color.jpg
Member of the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees from Area 1
In office
September 8, 2016 – December 2018
Preceded byRick Wright
Succeeded byNan Gomez-Heitzeberg
Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byBill Archer
Succeeded byCharles Rangel
Chair of the House Administration Committee
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byCharlie Rose
Succeeded byBob Ney
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byWilliam M. Ketchum
Succeeded byKevin McCarthy
Constituency18th district (1979–1983)
20th district (1983–1993)
21st district (1993–2003)
22nd district (2003–2007)
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 33rd district
In office
December 2, 1974 - November 30, 1978
Preceded byErnest N. Mobley[1]
Succeeded byDon Rogers[2]
Personal details
William Marshall Thomas

(1941-12-06) December 6, 1941 (age 80)
Wallace, Idaho, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Sharon Thomas
Residence(s)Morro Bay, California
Alma materSanta Ana College, San Francisco State University
OccupationProfessor, Politician

William Marshall Thomas (born December 6, 1941) is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 2007, finishing his tenure representing California's 22nd congressional district and as the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Early life and family

Thomas was born in Wallace, Idaho, moving with his parents to the Southern California area. He graduated from Garden Grove High School, attended Santa Ana College, earning an associate's degree before transferring to San Francisco State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree and master's degree in political science in 1963 and 1965, respectively. He became an instructor at Bakersfield College before running for and winning a seat in the California State Assembly in 1974. He won election to the House of Representatives in 1978, representing the 18th congressional district.

Thomas married the former Sharon Lynn Hamilton in 1968. They have two grown children. He and his wife are Baptists.[citation needed]


Thomas's official portrait
Thomas's official portrait

When Washingtonian magazine polled congressional aides on the "best and worst" of Congress, Thomas was voted #2 for "brainiest", #3 for "workhorse", and #1 for "meanest" and overwhelmingly for "hottest temper" in the House.[3] Thomas is known for being able to comprehend and communicate the intricacies of obscure legislative matters, studying testimony and research reports himself instead of relying on executive summaries from his aides. Thomas is also known for losing his temper when people are unprepared, earning a reputation for sharp interrogations. "He's revered, but he's also reviled to some degree", fellow representative Mark Foley told CQ Weekly.

Thomas was a key proponent of several of President George W. Bush's agenda items, including three major tax cut bills and the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (PL 108-173), and was also instrumental in the passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

On March 6, 2006, Thomas announced he would not seek reelection, retiring after 28 years in the House. A major influence on his decision was the internal GOP term limits that would require him to relinquish his Ways and Means chairmanship even if he were re-elected.[citation needed] Thomas endorsed a former aide, Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy, who was elected to replace him. Following McCarthy's vote to decertify the 2020 presidential election, Thomas said that McCarthy was a "hypocrite" and generally lambasted his behavior in regards to that election.[4][5]

In 2007, after leaving the House, Thomas joined the American Enterprise Institute as a visiting fellow working on tax policy, trade policy, and health care policy.[6] Thomas also joined law and lobbying firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney.[7]

On September 8, 2016, Thomas was named to the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees for Area 1, filling the seat of Rick Wright.[8][9] He did not run for reelection in 2018.[10] He was replaced by Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg.[11]

Congressional committees

U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means – Chairman (2001–2007)

U.S. House Committee on Administration – Chairman (1995–2001)


1992: Congressional banking scandal

In the 1992 Rubbergate banking scandal, involving House members writing checks when the funds were not available, Thomas bounced 119 checks, the tenth-highest amount for a Republican member of Congress. A brief overdraft of $16,200, occurred in October 1989, as he wrote a $15,300 check to buy a car.[12]

2001: alleged affair with lobbyist

The Bakersfield Californian published an article on Thomas about an affair with Deborah Steelman,[13] a lobbyist for Cigna, Pfizer, Aetna, United Healthcare Corporation, the Healthcare Leadership Council, and Prudential. Thomas was then chair of the House subcommittee that regulates HMOs. "Any personal failures of commitment or responsibility to my wife, family or friends are just that, personal," the former congressman wrote in an "open letter to friends and neighbors." Neither he nor Steelman explicitly denied the allegations. She was promoted to Vice President of Eli Lilly, a position which she used to steer huge campaign gifts to Thomas's war chest.[14]

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 prohibited Medicare from negotiating prescription prices with the drug industry, for instance.[15]

2003: controversy involving U.S. Capitol police

In July 2003, Thomas called the U.S. Capitol Police to eject Democrats from a meeting room. A few days later, he tearfully apologized on the House floor for what he called his "just plain stupid" decision to ask the police to eject the Congressmen.[16][17]

Election history

Bill Thomas congratulating President George W. Bush shortly after signing the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003
Bill Thomas congratulating President George W. Bush shortly after signing the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003
Bill Thomas with Vice President Dick Cheney at a Town Hall meeting on Social Security in 2005
Bill Thomas with Vice President Dick Cheney at a Town Hall meeting on Social Security in 2005


  1. ^ "Our Campaigns - CA State Assembly 33 Race - Nov 05, 1974". Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "Our Campaigns - CA State Assembly 33 Race - Nov 02, 1976". Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "Calendar of Events (". Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "Kevin McCarthy Is a Disaster" by A. D. Stoddard. The Bulwark. 1 February 2021. Accessed 1 February 2021.
  5. ^ "House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy backs away from blaming Trump for Capitol insurrection"by Seema Mehta. Los Angeles Times. 22 January 2021. Accessed 1 February 2021.
  6. ^ American Enterprise Institute, "Former Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas Joins AEI," news release, February 13, 2007. Archived March 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, "Former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas Joins Buchanan," news release, May 2, 2007. Archived July 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^, HAROLD PIERCE. "KCCD poised to appoint longtime congressman Bill Thomas to board". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  9. ^ "Board Members | Kern Community College District". Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  10. ^, JOSEPH LUIZ. "Two seats up for grabs in Kern Community College District race". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  11. ^ Californian, The Bakersfield. "SCHOOLS ROUNDUP: Retired teachers win Kern High School District races". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  12. ^ "Rep. Thomas Admits He Overdrew House Account 119 Times". March 24, 1992. Retrieved July 27, 2021 – via Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ "Patrick Kennedy". Retrieved 2002-10-01.[dead link]
  14. ^ House Medicare Activist Denies Conflict of Interest, Los Angeles Times, Nick Anderson, June 27, 2000. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  15. ^ 108th Congress Public Law 173 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, U.S. Government Printing Office, pp. 2065–6, retrieved July 27, 2021
  16. ^ Novak, Robert (2003-07-24). "Thomas's 'police state'". Retrieved 2006-12-30.
  17. ^ "Tears From the Gruff Chairman". The New York Times. 2006-07-26. Retrieved 2006-12-30.[permanent dead link]
California Assembly Preceded byErnest N. Mobley Member of the California State Assemblyfrom the 33rd district 1974–1978 Succeeded byDon Rogers U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byWilliam M. Ketchum Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 18th congressional district 1979–1983 Succeeded byRichard H. Lehman Preceded byBarry Goldwater, Jr. Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 20th congressional district 1983–1993 Succeeded byCalvin M. Dooley Preceded byElton Gallegly Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 21st congressional district 1993–2003 Succeeded byDevin Nunes Preceded byLois Capps Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 22nd congressional district 2003–2007 Succeeded byKevin McCarthy Political offices Preceded byCharlie RoseNorth Carolina Chairman of House Administration Committee 1995–2001 Succeeded byBob NeyOhio Preceded byBill ArcherTexas Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee 2001–2007 Succeeded byCharles RangelNew York U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded bySolomon P. Ortizas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United Statesas Former US Representative Succeeded byDuncan L. Hunteras Former US Representative