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For the football player of the same name see Bennie Thompson (American football).
Bennie Thompson


Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 2nd district
Incumbent
Assumed office 
April 13, 1993
Preceded by Mike Espy

Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 4, 2007
Preceded by Peter T. King

Born January 28, 1948 (1948-01-28) (age 61)
Bolton, Mississippi
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) London Thompson
Residence Bolton, Mississippi
Alma mater Tougaloo College
Jackson State University
Occupation high school teacher
Religion Methodist

Bennie G. Thompson (born January 28, 1948 in Bolton, Mississippi) is an American politician from the Democratic Party. He has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 2nd District of Mississippi (map) since 1993. 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.

Contents

Biography

Thompson is a native of Bolton, Mississippi and attended Hinds County public schools before earning degrees from Tougaloo College and Jackson State University. He served as an alderman, then mayor of Bolton before being elected to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

He 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, Inc. initiated into the Gamma Rho Chapter at Tougaloo College and a lifetime member of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Bolton. He is also an avid hunter and outdoorsman.

Political career

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 handily elected to a full term in 1994, and has been reelected six times.

Thompson has 40 years of public service, ranking him as Mississippi's most senior African-American politician.

On December 7, 2006, Thompson was elected by his House colleagues to serve as Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, a Congressional committee responsible for providing government oversight on terrorism and disaster relief agencies. As a former volunteer firefighter and local official, Thompson has focused the Committee on assuring that state and local officials, as well as first responders (fire, police, EMTs), have the resources they need to protect their communities.

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 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.

Thompson's 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.

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[1]. The case (Conyers v. Bush) was ultimately dismissed[2].

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.

Committee assignments

Controversy and criticism

Trips

In 2005, the Washington Post reported that Thompson was one of two Democratic Members of Congress who took trips in the mid-1990s to the Northern Mariana Islands that were paid for by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is now in prison. The Members were invited on the trip by the National Security Caucus Foundation. At the time of the trip, Abramoff and his law firm were being paid to lobby on behalf of Northern Mariana Island businesses who wished to remain exempt from paying minimum wages.[3]

Thompson has been criticized for trips he made in April 2007 as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Thompson, along with eight other members of congress, took trips to Mexico City, Honduras, the Virgin Islands, and Key West, Florida aboard a government-owned Boeing executive jet. The trips cost up to $130,000. The flight members also stayed at luxury hotels, such as one Caneel Bay resort, which were also paid for by the government. The trips were said to be made to "check out matters of homeland security."[4]

In November 2008, days after the election, Thompson took an all-expenses paid trip to the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort in St. Martin to participate in the New York Carib News Foundation's annual conference. [5] Critics of the trip have questioned whether the Carib News Foundation is legally a nonprofit and whether the corporate sponsorship of the event and presence of numerous corporate interests violated Congressional ethics rules. And they criticized the partial financing of the trip by Citigroup, which received billions of bailout dollars just weeks later.

Repatriation of Yemeni captives in Guantanamo

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.[6][7 ] 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.

References

  1. ^ Associated Press (2006-04-27). "11 House Members to Sue Over Budget Bill". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=1898817. Retrieved 2007-02-20.  
  2. ^ Associated Press (2006-11-06). "Judge Dismisses Budget Bill Lawsuit". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2633701. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  3. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/03/AR2005050301792.html
  4. ^ Drew Griffin (2007-05-21). "Keeping Them Honest". CNN. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0705/21/acd.01.html. Retrieved 2008-02-27.  
  5. ^ "Trips to Caribbean appear to have broken House rules". 2008-12-16.  
  6. ^ "Gitmo transfer to Yemen in doubt". United Press International. 2009-12-27. Archived from the original on 2009-12-27. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.upi.com%2FTop_News%2FInternational%2F2009%2F12%2F27%2FGitmo-transfer-to-Yemen-in-doubt%2FUPI-67591261928832%2F&date=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."  
  7. ^ Josh Gerstein (2009-12-27). "Bomb plot complicates Gitmo plan". Politico. Archived from the original on 2009-12-28. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fdyn.politico.com%2Fprintstory.cfm%3Fuuid%3DCD70C0DB-18FE-70B2-A8665EFC42F4E403&date=2009-12-28.  

External links

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–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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