Bennie Thompson

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For the football player of the same name see Bennie Thompson (American football).
Bennie Thompson
Bennie thompson2014.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 2nd district
Assumed office
April 13, 1993
Preceded by Mike Espy
Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Peter T. King
Succeeded by Peter T. King
Personal details
Born Bennie Gordon Thompson
(1948-01-28) January 28, 1948 (age 70)
Bolton, Mississippi, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) London Thompson
Alma mater Tougaloo College
Jackson State University
Religion Methodism

Bennie Gordon 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

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

Committee assignments

  • 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.


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]

Thompson joined hands with Senator Ron Wyden and introduced a bill to limit the number of documents that are classified and to overhaul the security clearance system in July 2014. The bill's fate is currently unclear.[9]

Legislation sponsored


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.[11]

Mississippi's 2nd congressional district: Results 1993–2014[12][13]
Year Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1993 Bennie Thompson Democratic 72,561 55.2% Hayes Dent Republican 58,995 44.8%
1994 Bennie Thompson Democratic 68,014 53.7% Bill Jordan Republican 49,270 38.9% Vincent Thornton U.S. Taxpayers Party 9,408 7.4%
1996 Bennie Thompson Democratic 102,503 59.6% Dana Covington Republican 65,263 38.0% William Chipman Libertarian 4,167 2.4%
1998 Bennie Thompson Democratic 80,284 71.2% William Chipman Libertarian 32,533 28.8%
2000 Bennie Thompson Democratic 112,777 65.1% Hardy Caraway Republican 54,090 31.2% William Chipman Libertarian 4,305 2.5% Lee Dilworth Reform 4,167 2.4%
2002 Bennie Thompson Democratic 89,913 55.1% Clinton LeSueur Republican 69,711 42.8% Lee Dilworth Reform 3,426 2.1%
2004 Bennie Thompson Democratic 154,626 58.4% Clinton LeSueur Republican 107,647 40.6% Shawn O'Hara Reform 2,596 1.0%
2006 Bennie Thompson Democratic 100,160 64.3% Yvonne Brown Republican 55,672 35.7%
2008 Bennie Thompson Democratic 201,606 69.1% Richard Cook Republican 90,364 30.9%
2010 Bennie Thompson Democratic 105,327 61.5% Bill Marcy Republican 64,499 37.6% Ashley Norwood Reform 1,530 .9%
2012 Bennie Thompson Democratic 214,978 67.1% Bill Marcy Republican 99,160 31.0% Cobby Williams Independent 4,605 1.4% Lajena Williams Reform 1,501 0.5%
2014 Bennie Thompson Democratic 100,688 67.7% Troy Ray Independent 36,465 24.5% Shelley Shoemake Reform 11,493 7.7%

Personal life

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.


  1. "Rep. Bennie Thompson". GovTrack. Retrieved August 14, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Associated Press (April 27, 2006). "11 House Members to Sue Over Budget Bill". ABC News. Retrieved February 20, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Associated Press (November 6, 2006). "Judge Dismisses Budget Bill Lawsuit". ABC News. Retrieved November 28, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Gitmo transfer to Yemen in doubt". United Press International. December 27, 2009. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Josh Gerstein (December 27, 2009). 28, 2009 "Bomb plot complicates Gitmo plan" Check |archiveurl= value (help). Politico. Archived from the original on December 28, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Pete Kasperowicz (July 17, 2012). "House Dems look to ban auto insurers from using credit scores to set rates". The Hill.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Pete Kasperowicz (July 20, 2012). "Dems would require pilot trainees to be checked against terror watchlist". The Hill. Retrieved August 14, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Rep. Thompson Moves to Close Flight Training Loophole". Helicopter Association International. July 23, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Hicks, Josh. "Does the government have a problem with 'runaway' document classification?". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "H.R. 1204 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved December 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Deborah Barfield Berry (July 17, 2012). "Thompson's fundraising eclipses challengers". Clarion Ledger.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Candidate Details". Retrieved 26 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Election Results". Retrieved 4 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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

Preceded by
Peter T. King
Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee
Succeeded by
Peter T. King
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Nydia Velázquez
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Sam Farr