Bennie Thompson

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For the football player of the same name see Bennie Thompson (American football).
Bennie Thompson
Bennie Thompson, official portrait, 111th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 2nd district
Incumbent
Assumed office
April 13, 1993
Preceded by Mike Espy
Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security
In office
January 4, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Peter T. King
Succeeded by Peter T. King
Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Peter T. King
In office
January 4, 2005 – January 4, 2007
Preceded by New committee
Succeeded by Peter T. King
Personal details
Born (1948-01-28) January 28, 1948 (age 66)
Bolton, Mississippi
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) London Thompson
Residence Bolton, Mississippi
Alma mater Tougaloo College (B.A.)
Jackson State University (M.S.)
Occupation high school teacher
Religion Methodist

Bennie G. Thompson, (born January 28, 1948) is the U.S. Representative for Mississippi's 2nd congressional district, serving since 1993, and the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security since 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party.[1]

The district includes most of Jackson and is the only majority-black district in the state. The district is approximately 275 miles (443 km) long, 180 miles (290 km) wide and borders the Mississippi River. The Mississippi Delta comprises the vast majority of the 2nd District. He is both the first Democrat and the first African American to chair the Homeland Security Committee in the House.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Thompson is a lifelong resident of Bolton, near Jackson. He attended Hinds County public schools before earning a B.A. in political science from Tougaloo College in 1968 and an M.S. in educational administration from Jackson State University in 1973. He served as an alderman, then mayor of Bolton before being elected to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Committee on Homeland Security (Ranking Member)
    • As Ranking Member of the full committee, Rep. Thompson may serve as an ex officio member of all subcommittees.
Earlier photo of Congressman Bennie Thompson

Thompson also belongs to the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Rural Caucus, Congressional Sunbelt Caucus, Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Caucus, Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus, and the Tennessee Valley Authority Caucus. He also is involved in the Congressional Children's Working Group and the National Guard & Reserve Components Congressional Members Organization.

Tenure[edit]

Thompson entered a crowded seven-way special election held on April 13, 1993 after Mike Espy gave up the seat to become Secretary of Agriculture. With five other Democrats splitting the vote, he finished second behind Republican Hayes Dent with 28 percent of the vote. He then defeated Dent in the April 13 runoff with 55 percent of the vote. He won the seat in his own right in 1994 and has been reelected eight times. He has only faced serious opposition twice, when journalist Clinton LeSueur held him to 55 percent in 2002 and 58 percent in 2004.

Thompson became an outspoken advocate for the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit in 2005. From his position on the Homeland Security Committee, he pushed for accountability at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a careful review of the role of the Red Cross in the time of disaster. He also pursued waste, fraud, and abuse in hurricane contracting and called for preferences to be given to small and Gulf Coast businesses in the recovery and rebuilding of the affected states. Thompson is the founding Member of the bipartisan Gulf Coast Recovery & Rebuilding Caucus in the House of Representatives.

Thompson's voting record has been decidedly liberal; he is arguably one of the most liberal congressmen ever to represent Mississippi. He is a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. His legislative platform focuses mainly on homeland security, civil rights, agriculture and rural issues, equal education and health care reform. In 1975, he became one of the original plaintiffs in the Ayers Case, which concerned the adequate funding of predominantly black educational institutes in Mississippi. In 2000, Thompson wrote legislation that created the National Center for Minority Health and Health Care Disparities.

During his tenure as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Thompson focused on assuring that state and local officials, as well as first responders (fire, police, EMTs), got the resources they needed to protect their communities. Thompson was particularly concerned about local officials getting adequate resources, having been a volunteer firefighter and a local elected official for 24 years.

He was one of the 31 who voted in the House to refuse to count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. [1]

Along with John Conyers, in April 2006, Thompson brought an action against George W. Bush and others alleging violations of the Constitution in the passing of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.[2] The case (Conyers v. Bush) was ultimately dismissed.[3]

On January 5, 2007, Thompson introduced H.R.1, "Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007," the first bill of the 110th Congress. The bill, cosponsored by more than 100 House Members, provided for the implementation of the 9/11 Commission's remaining recommendations. It included provisions requiring major improvements in aviation security, border security, and infrastructure security; providing first responders the equipment and training they need; beefing up efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction; and significantly expanding diplomatic, economic, educational, and other strategies designed to counter terrorism. The bill had bipartisan support and passed 299-128 on January 9, 2007. On July 27, 2007, the Conference Report on H.R. 1 passed the House overwhelmingly, 371-40. The previous day, it had passed the Senate 85-8. The President signed H.R. 1 into law on August 3, 2007.

With the passage of H.R. 1, Thompson is the first African-American Chairman of a House Committee to have a House-Senate Conference on the first bill introduced in either the House or the Senate in any given Congress.

On December 27, 2009, commenting on reports that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had allegedly tried to set off a suicide bomb on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009, had subsequently confessed to being trained and equipped in Yemen,[4][5] Thompson called for a halt to all current plans with regard to Yemen in light of Abdulmutullab's ties there, including plans to repatriate approximately 80 Yemeni captives in Guantanamo.

Thompson is a supporter, and one of the proposers of, a recent proposed bill to prevent auto insurance companies from using credit scores to set auto insurance rates. The result of this bill if passed would be drastically lowered auto insurance rates to help Americans already in financial struggle. Auto insurance rates would be more based solely on factors directly related to auto mobility instead of arbitrary factors such as debt or poor credit elsewhere.[6]

Thompson has also been a supporter of a measure to increase screening and background checks for pilot trainees to reduce chances of terrorist exploitation. The bill, H.R. 6159 would require all applicants to go through a waiting period while they were screened and cleared by the Department of Homeland Security. Currently only foreign born trainees are required to go through this screening, but this bill would extend the precautions taken to all American applicants.[7][8]

Legislation sponsored[edit]

Elections[edit]

Thompson joined the House of Representatives in April 1993, after winning a special election for the 2nd Congressional seat, which became vacant when Representative Mike Espy resigned. He was elected to a full term in 1994, and has been reelected six times.

Thompson has had very successful campaign financing and has raised about 1.2 million dollars. This is about 200 times the amount raised by his closest competitor, Republican Bill Marcy. He has spent much of these funds on television, radio, and print advertisement for his campaign.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Thompson is married to the former London Johnson of Mound Bayou, Mississippi and has one daughter, BendaLonne, one granddaughter, Jeanna. and one grandson, Thomas. Thompson is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity (Gamma Rho - Tougaloo College) and a lifetime member of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Bolton.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rep. Bennie Thompson". GovTrack. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Associated Press (2006-04-27). "11 House Members to Sue Over Budget Bill". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-02-20. 
  3. ^ Associated Press (2006-11-06). "Judge Dismisses Budget Bill Lawsuit". ABC News. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  4. ^ "Gitmo transfer to Yemen in doubt". United Press International. 2009-12-27. Archived from the original on 2009-12-27. "'I'd, at a minimum, say that whatever we were about to do we'd at least have to scrub (those plans) again from top to bottom,' said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss." 
  5. ^ Josh Gerstein (2009-12-27). "Bomb plot complicates Gitmo plan". Politico. Archived from the original on 2009-12-28. 
  6. ^ Pete Kasperowicz (17 July 2012). "House Dems look to ban auto insurers from using credit scores to set rates". The Hill. 
  7. ^ Pete Kasperowicz (20 July 2012). "Dems would require pilot trainees to be checked against terror watchlist". The Hill. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Rep. Thompson Moves to Close Flight Training Loophole". Helicopter Association International. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "H.R. 1204 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  10. ^ Deborah Barfield Berry (17 July 2012). "Thompson's fundraising eclipses challengers". Clarion Ledger. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Espy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 2nd congressional district

1993–
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Peter T. King
New York
Chairman of House Homeland Security Committee
2007–2011
Succeeded by
Peter T. King
New York
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Nydia Velazquez
D-New York
United States Representatives by seniority
71st
Succeeded by
Sam Farr
D-California