Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Sid Salter: Will Miss. Lose Congressional Clout?

During the 2018 federal election cycle, The New York Times, The Washington ____ and other national news organizations examined the question of what they saw as Mississippi’s declining clout on Capitol Hill.
Clearly, the 2018 retirement of 45-year veteran Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran – who held the vastly influential post of Senate Appropriations Committee chairman – represents a tremendous loss of clout for the state. Republicans and Democrats alike statewide recognize that fact.

Couple that loss with the decision by Republican congressional leaders in 2011 to do away with the practice of congressional “earmarks” (allowing lawmakers to direct spending to specific projects in their home states and districts) and Mississippi’s longstanding ability to attract federal funding for a myriad of state projects is significantly impaired.

The development calls to mind the heady days in 1987 when Mississippi’s Democratic U.S. Sen. John C. Stennis of DeKalb and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jamie Whitten of Charleston chaired the Appropriations Committee in both houses of Congress.

In those days, federal earmarks flowed to Mississippi in the form of defense spending, highway funds, rural water and sewer projects, agricultural subsidies, research and development, and a host of other projects. While Stennis chaired Appropriations, Cochran also held a seat on the committee as the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Subcommittee.

With various degrees of support from both House Republicans and Democrats and from the Trump Administration, earmarks may well be making a comeback in the 116th Congress when Democrats return to control of the House. But that’s another story for another day.

Fast forward to the 116th Congress after Cochran’s retirement. Losing the Appropriations chair is huge, yes, but Mississippi still has some Capitol Hill assets. Two chairmanships and multiple seats on Appropriations, Agriculture, and Armed Services offer stability from the state’s delegation.

Serving since 2007, senior Mississippi U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, will chair the Senate Commerce Committee in the 116th Congress and will retain his seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he is the second-ranked GOP member and chairs the Sea Power Subcommittee. In the 115th Congress, Wicker also held seats on the Environment and Public Works and Rules committees.

Junior U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Brookhaven, holds seats on the Appropriations Committee, Agriculture Committee, and Rules Committee, which represent extraordinary assignments for a first-year senator whose seniority began in 2018.

In the House, Second District Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Bolton will assume the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee. Thompson, with 25 years seniority, is the state’s longest-serving member of Congress with seniority beginning in 1993.

Fourth District Republican U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Gulfport holds a seat on the House Appropriations Committee and serves on three subcommittees: Agriculture; Commerce; and Legislative Branch. His seniority began in 2011.

First District GOP U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly of Tupelo holds seats on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Agriculture Committee, and the House Small Business Committee. His seniority began in 2015 after the death of former U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee.

Third District Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Guest of Brandon, who will succeed the retiring Congressman Gregg Harper, is Mississippi’s newest member of Congress and his seniority will begin on Jan. 3, 2019. His committee assignments are pending.

The Washington-based Roll Call news organization compiles a state-by-state “clout index” in each Congress. During the 115th Congress, Mississippi’s ranking was No. 19 in a state that ranked 32nd in population. It will be instructive to see where the state ranks in the 116th Congress.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Pappy Odaniel said...

Thank you Sid for the nonsense battle cry of the age-d few in this state that benefit from the benevolence of the federal government to the detriment of development of true economic activity in this state. The above link shows that not only is Mississippi dead last in most everything economic, it has fallen further behind since the inception of the federal dollar salad days of 1987. MS was last then and grew 70% since 1987 and the rest of the country grew 105%...i.e. we LOST ground. But hey, we got FO-lane highways all over the state for the zippo commerce we have and can't maintain a road anywhere. But only if we could put Thad in a cryogenic chamber and roll him out every six years to record robo calls...or if we could dig up Eastland...and Jamie Whitten? Southern Manifesto, fiefdom of Tallahatchie County...oh, those were the days

Anonymous said...

As always, very in-depth analysis gleaned from extensive research by reading the Washington Post.

Anonymous said...

If the state of Mississippi keeps shrinking in population, we might be in line to losing another congressional seat.

Rod Knox said...

You forgot Stennis 11:43. His weekly ramblings on local radio stations across the state were inspiring to nursing home residents from Pascagoula to Southaven and reassuring to the mayors of Meridian and Columbus.

Anonymous said...

If the state of Mississippi keeps shrinking in population, we might be in line to losing another congressional seat.

Don't you ever get tired of spreading that manure? We won't be losing one in 2020 and it is unlikely we lose one in 2030 -- unless our statewide losses starting looking more like the ongoing mad rush for the exits out of Hinds County.

I'm sure you'll enjoy predicting doom and gloom in advance of 2040.

Cousin Eddie said...

Wish we could lose Bennie Thompson seat!

Anonymous said...

Shazam! A 45 year veteran has more pull in Washington than a rookie?! Please Gomer, tell us more!

Anonymous said...

It will not be long before 3 of our congressional seats are given to California. But we will still have our flag.

Anonymous said...

I'll never understand why a piss-ant state like MS thinks that it deserves the clout of a state like TX. Maybe because y'all are doing everything so right in MS?! yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

Odd that CHS gets a seat on Appropriations. Perhaps someone behind the scenes got her that appt so she can deliver the bacon to someone.

Anonymous said...

It's not the clout a representative or senator has, but how he uses it.

There are federal projects that can bring lasting jobs and further development to a State.

But, even our powerful members of Congress brought " one off" construction jobs and saved existing jobs rather than looked for opportunities for projects with the potential to spin off other industries and businesses.

If they had been more creative and insightful, Mississippi's population would have perhaps grown and " natives" would now be a minority.

The Mississippi corporations and businesses that do compete on the national stage can't grow more jobs in Mississippi as they have a finite supply of qualified Mississippians for the jobs they have to replenish here now. They are more likely to open satellite offices in other States. Even the professions have to bring in people from elsewhere to fill the available positions.

Until Mississippians can work together on a big picture approach and start to reform and reorganize from top to bottom, the bottom is where we will stay. We have to consolidate and streamline and efficiently use limited resources first.

But, that requires well educated leadership with enough creativity to look to the future instead of protecting the past.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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