In my own words…
First and foremost, Mississippi's senator
Since my election as Senate Majority Leader by my Republican peers in 1996, I have made no secret that I have been using this national leadership position to help Mississippi.
I will remain in a strong national leadership position as Senate Minority Leader and will continue using this considerable Senate job as an opportunity to enhance my first and most important priority, which is to represent 2.8 million Mississippians.
As Senate Majority Leader, I've had the ear of many leaders from our country and around the world. I have tried to use this opportunity to be an ambassador for our state telling them what Mississippi has to offer, asking them to come to Mississippi, telling them how good our people really are and how our state is poised to grow.
During my leadership tenure, Mississippi has dramatically increased the attention we get from Washington, and I expect this trend to continue unabated during my new leadership role.
Senator Cochran and I have secured federal funds for a variety of projects important to Mississippians. These include funds for a new U.S. 82 Bridge at Greenville, funding for a new U.S. 90 Bridge in Pascagoula and funding for badly needed housing, equipment and infrastructure at our state's military bases, helping to protect them from closure.
We have secured funding for new and much better public housing in Biloxi and funding to improve our state's ports, which in turn can bring more jobs and international trade to Mississippi. I have helped double federal research funding to Mississippi's public universities. We have also laid the groundwork for a new interstate in Mississippi I-69 which will help the Delta's economy.
We received more funding for expansions at Jackson International Airport, Gulfport/Biloxi Regional Airport, Golden Triangle Airport, Olive Branch Airport and others. We have helped bring work to Mississippi's military contractors, including Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Friede Goldman Halter of Gulfport; Raytheon in Forest and Madison and Lockheed Martin in Meridian.
We brought federal help on several long-awaited historic preservation efforts, including funding to restore Jackson's Farish Street District and an initiative that will transform a large piece of historic downtown Meridian into an academic campus for MSU and also serve as a regional conference center. We have also obtained funds to stabilize the bluffs at Natchez, helping to protect some of Mississippi's most visited antebellum tourist destinations.
We have also been very successful in getting Mississippians appointed, confirmed or nominated to a number of federal posts, including Mayor Glenn McCullough of Tupelo, Dennis Dollar of Gulfport, Curt Hebert of Pascagoula, Bill Hawks of Hernando, Mayor John Robert Smith and Gil Carmichael both of Meridian and Jim Newsome of Brandon. This effort will continue as we seek Senate confirmation of Pete Johnson of Clarksdale and Judge Charles Pickering of Laurel for federal roles.
We have obtained federal dollars for water and sewer improvements throughout our state improvements which can enhance public health and provide the services needed for economic development and job growth. An example is DeSoto County's $80 million wastewater system to help that county facilitate its booming population, as well as funds for a badly-needed water system in Jefferson County so residents will no longer have to boil their drinking water.
I have worked to convince companies like Boeing that Mississippi has a place for them, and I aggressively supported Nissan Motor Company's decision to create 4,000 jobs in our state with the placement of an auto manufacturing plant in Canton.
When I met Gov. Musgrove in Los Angeles last year to help sell Nissan's CEO on Mississippi, I was confident our state could land this highly competitive project.
However, Mississippi cannot stop there. I will continue working to bring more companies of the same size and scope to Mississippi because I remain confident in Mississippi's future.
Whether I'm Majority Leader, Minority Leader or anything else, I am first and still foremost your senator. Senator for Mississippi will always be the greatest honor and title of my life.
U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., is Minority Leader. Write him at 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510