McConnell, Paul, Massie, Comer: Meet KY's congressional … – Courier Journal

If you want to get something done in Washington D.C. – in either the House or the Senate – you need a Kentucky phone book. Pound for pound, Kentucky has the most powerful delegation in the Capitol.
While Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are already household names, the surprising appointment of Congressman Thomas Massie to the powerful House Rules Committee by new Speaker Kevin McCarthy gives every Republican in the Bluegrass delegation a high perch. And each of them operates in a vital policy or leadership arena that has given this small, rural state an unusual amount of influence.    
The longest serving Senate party leader in American history was reelected by the GOP conference in December for a record ninth two-year term. McConnell stands as the only member of top congressional leadership not from California or New York (Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries are from the same neighborhood in Brooklyn). McConnell considers himself Middle America’s representative at the leadership table, and, as it has been since 2007, he will be instrumental in whatever deals there are to be had in divided government.
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Elected in 1980, you might’ve seen the “Dean of the House” (aka the longest serving member) swearing in Kevin McCarthy as Speaker in the middle of the night, and McCarthy calls Rogers “one of my first mentors.” The 85-year-old Wayne County native has massive appropriations influence, as residents of Eastern Kentucky know all too well. Rogers will chair the Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee in this Congress.
If you’ve turned on cable news lately, chances are you saw Rep. Comer’s face. First elected in 2016, the new Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability has become a media star serving as the GOP’s point man for investigating President Joe Biden. Comer is making the most of his improbably quick rise, saying yes to virtually every interview and pressing the Republican case on Biden’s mishandling of classified documents. His ability to bridge various corners of the GOP conference—a skill he learned in the cutthroat factional party politics of South Central Kentucky—has proven beyond useful for House GOP leadership.
More from Scott Jennings: Plans to investigate the Biden Administration will make James Comer a star
Do you care about your health? Or perhaps the nation’s energy grid? Then meet the policy wonk from Bowling Green who has been quietly working his way up the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee ladder. Although not yet official, Guthrie is expected to Chair the Health Subcommittee, which puts him in the middle of issues like Medicare, drug prices, and the nation’s pandemic response agencies.
Many Americans became familiar with Lexington’s Barr when his wife, Carol, unexpectedly died in 2020. In the wake of the tragedy, he passed the CAROL Act, which unlocked new research funding for valvular heart disease. Barr has taken several national interviews lately, including appearances on NBC’s Meet the Press, ABC’s This Week and with CNN’s Jake Tapper. Barr is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and was just named a subcommittee chairman with jurisdiction over banks and the Federal Reserve. He’s got a plum seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee and the new Select Committee on China, which figures to be a major bipartisan legislating focus over the next two years.
You might be familiar with Northern Kentucky’s Tesla-driving, off-grid-living Massie because, if you watch C-SPAN, he’s often the lone “nay” on the rather mundane votes taken in the chamber. But the so-called “Dr. No” became “Dr. Flow” when Speaker McCarthy named him to the powerful House Rules Committee, which controls the flow of legislation to the floor. He once drew the ire of former President Donald Trump and then survived a primary afterwards, which proved Massie’s political chops. Massie once offered the most salient explanation of how conservatives and libertarians wound up voting for the big-spending, big government Trump: “After some soul searching I realized when they voted for Rand [Paul] and Ron [Paul] and me in these primaries, they weren’t voting for libertarian ideas—they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race.”
Easily reelected in 2022, Paul is now the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the upper chamber’s analog to Comer’s House panel. As Democrats control the Senate, Paul won’t have as much space to operate inside the committee as Comer, but his national popularity on the libertarian right and media savvy gives him ongoing influence in shaping the Republican Party’s priorities.
Perhaps the best advice for getting something done in Washington these days is to book a flight to Louisville and rent a car. You’ll find all the political power you need right here in the Bluegrass.
Scott Jennings is a Republican adviser, CNN political contributor and partner at RunSwitch Public Relations. He can be reached at or on Twitter @ScottJenningsKY.







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