WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just days after difficult votes on the nation’s pending financial crisis, the state’s congressional delegation was sworn in today for new terms. And they have plenty of tough issues ahead of them.
Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker took the oaths in the Senate and Republicans Alan Nunnelee and Gregg Harper and Democrat Bennie Thompson began new terms in the House.
The biggest change for the delegation comes with Cochran, who becomes the top ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Cochran had a leading role on the Ways and Means Committee but Senate rules prevent him from continuing there.
“I am pleased the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee have entrusted me with the opportunity to be their Ranking Republican Member. I will use the experiences I’ve gained in serving on the committee since 1979 to help quickly advance a new Farm Bill that will meet the needs of our country’s farmers, small businesses and those who rely on the nutrition programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction. I look forward to working with Chairman Stabenow and members of the committee in this new Congress, and I thank Senator Roberts for his dedicated service as the Ranking Member during the 112th Congress,” Cochran said of his new role.
Cochran joined the Senate Agriculture Committee after being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978. He has previously served as committee chairman from 2003 to 2005.
Cochran will also continue to serve on the Senate Committee on Rules, as well as the Committee on Appropriations where he is expected to remain the Ranking Member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
“Representing the people of Mississippi in the United States Senate is a great honor that comes with tremendous responsibility,” said Wicker. “We face a number of challenges that require leadership and cooperation to solve. Congress and the President must reduce the federal deficit and begin to address the debt. At $16.4 trillion, the debt is unsustainable, and the problem gets worse each day. All sides need to have an honest discussion about what we can afford and what we can do without,” Wicker said after taking the oath.
Wicker was named Deputy Whip by Sen. John Cornyn, (R-Tex.), who was recently elected Senate Republican Whip. The Whip and his team build support for the Republican legislative agenda.
Harper took the oath to serve his third, two-year House term in the 113th Congress.
Harper will remain on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he is now a member of three subcommittees: Environment and the Economy, Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and Oversight and Investigation.
The state’s senior House Republican will also return to the select Committee on House Administration. This panel manages the chamber’s daily functions, oversees federal elections, and has many other oversight responsibilities on Capitol Hill.
Harper was reelected to a third term in November with 80 percent of the vote. His third district seat stretches from Wilkinson County to Oktibbeha County and includes the northeast corner of Jackson and the I-20 corridor into east central Mississippi.