Note: The following is Sen. Roger Wicker’s Weekly Report and is provided by the Senator’s office.
Infrastructure and Education Promise Bright Future
Over the past month, I have had the privilege of traveling across Mississippi to meet with students, teachers, builders, and innovators who are shaping the future of our state. I am always inspired by the dedication of these Mississippians. As a U.S. Senator, I am eager to support their efforts through my work on the Commerce, Armed Services, and Environment & Public Works Committees.
Building New Infrastructure
The recent water crisis in Jackson exposed the need for better infrastructure in our capital region. Although state and local leaders have led the response, Congress has played a supporting role through infrastructure investments across the state, with Jackson receiving $25 million in water infrastructure funds. A few weeks ago, I met with local community members to discuss the water crisis and a proposal for flood control along the Pearl River. The Army Corps of Engineers has committed to providing $221 million for this project pending a favorable review.
While traveling the state, I had the chance to visit Stennis Space Center, a longstanding pillar of our space program. Twelve years ago, an unfinished engine test stand at Stennis was set to be demolished after the Obama Administration proposed funding cuts. This would have been a waste of taxpayer investment, and I was able to preserve the test stand through a provision in the 2010 NASA bill. As a result, the tower is still standing and is now being renovated by the private firm Rocket Lab. This visit was the second time in recent months that I was able to join leaders in Hancock County to welcome new jobs and investment at Stennis.
Mississippi is also in need of expanded passenger rail. Recently I met with Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Chairman of the Southern Rail Commission Knox Ross, state and local officials, and residents to discuss the need for an “I-20 Corridor” connecting Mississippi with other national rail routes. I also continued to push for a restoration of Gulf Coast Rail, which has been halted ever since Hurricane Katrina. Restoring Amtrak service along the coast remains a top priority of mine as the lead Republican on the Commerce Committee.
Mississippi Develops New Technologies
Researchers at Mississippi universities are working on a range of technologies that could be pivotal for our nation. A couple weeks ago, I visited Mississippi State University and witnessed cutting-edge technologies that will improve weather forecasting, automated vehicles, and aerial drones. I also spoke at the Mississippi Competes conference at the University of Mississippi, where investors and job creators gathered to discuss opportunities for economic growth in Mississippi. Some of our most promising industries are already being spearheaded at Ole Miss, which operates world-class programs in ocean and space research, acoustics, supercomputing, and medical sciences.
Students Represent Bright Future
One of my favorite things to do while traveling Mississippi is to meet with rising young citizens. Recently I was able to speak to a high school government class in Flora, a leadership class at Mississippi State, and middle and high school students in New Albany who had gathered for a Veterans Day celebration. I also met with a group of high school seniors who helped register their peers to vote for the first time. Most recently I traveled to Vicksburg, where middle school students gave me Christmas ornaments that they personally made using robotics and 3D printing in the science lab. These skills will serve them well in the future. I am grateful for the promise of these young Mississippians who will one day lead our state.