Why Mississippi has so much clout in Washington

Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula relies heavily on federal defense contracts.
Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula relies heavily on federal defense contracts.

Mississippi is an overachiever.

Roll Call, a Washington-based paper that covers legislative news and the machinations of Congress, has for years been ranking states based on their clout on the hill and Mississippi once again is doing pretty well by that measure. The state is No. 32 in population but No. 19 in clout, down slightly from 18 in the previous index.

Most of the state’s influence, according to Roll Call, derives from the Senate where Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker have a combined 66 years of experience, most of that on Cochran’s part. Cochran also is chairman of the Appropriations Committee and that committee’s Defense Subcommittee. In the House, Rep. Steven Palazzo is a member of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Gregg Harper is the House Administration chairman and a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Bennie Thompson is the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee.

Rep. Trent Kelly, R-1, the newest member of the delegation (since June of 2015) is the only member who didn’t get a mention.

Roll Call says it uses “total membership, collective tenure, majority-party representation, partisan leadership assignments, top positions on committees and membership on the most influential panels” to arrive at its clout scores.

Clout apparently pays handsomely. Experts say Mississippi gets about $3 for every $1 it sends to D.C. and federal spending makes up around 40 percent of the state’s revenue.

See how other states did here.

Paul Hampton: 228-896-2330, @JPaulHampton