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Thom Tillis: Keep Government Out of the Bathroom

Tillis (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Sen. Thom Tillis likes to tell a story about why he doesn’t believe government should require coffee shop employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom.  

“Just to give you an idea of where my bias is when it comes to regulatory reform,” the North Carolina Republican said Monday, before telling the story at a discussion at the Bipartisan Policy Center. In 2010, when he was in the state legislature, he had a conversation with an opponent of his views on regulations at a Starbucks.  

He was arguing businesses should be allowed to opt out of regulations as long as they were upfront and transparent to the public about the move.  

The two were sitting at a table near the restrooms, which prompted his opponent to ask Tillis if he would be OK with the Starbucks opting out of any regulation requiring that employees wash their hands after using the bathroom.  

Tillis said he saw the question as an opportunity to illustrate his point.  

“I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says, ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after they use the restroom,’” Tillis responded. “The market will take care of that.”  

Tillis also discussed his efforts to build relationships, particularly with Senate Democrats.  

“It’s really nice being irrelevant; it’s great being a freshman because you can really spend time just finding your way around,” Tillis said. “That’s what I am doing now and trying to build relationships that I think will be helpful on both sides of the aisle. ... I’ve spent most of my time reaching out to members of the Democratic caucus and meeting with them one on one.”  

Tillis said he has met with seven or eight Democrats so far.  

He believes the open amendment process that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used to pass the Keystone XL pipeline, which included votes from both Democrats and Republicans, could help achieve a less partisan Senate.  

“I think enormously important because, if you think about it and you’re in the minority, if you know you are going to an opportunity to have things heard then you are going to be more likely to check your partisan tendencies in the interest of maybe moving these things further along,” Tillis said.  

Tillis said he believes that there could be bipartisan support for a regulatory overhaul, trade and rolling back the sequester.  

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