Harold Dallas "Hal" Rogers (born December 31, 1937) is the U.S. Representative for Kentucky's 5th congressional district, serving since 1981. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Early life, education, and early career
Rogers was born in Barrier, Kentucky, attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green and received a baccalaureate degree (A.B.) and a law degree (LL.B.) from the University of Kentucky at Lexington. Rogers served in the Kentucky and North Carolina Army National Guard. The January 1961 Kentucky Guardsman reported a story noting Harold Rogers recognition in his selection as soldier of the year, stating, "Specialist Fourth Class Harold (Hal) Rogers has been named “Soldier of the Year” by vote of the 125 member Battery A of the Fifth Observation Battalion at Lexington. Rogers, 22, a journalism major at the University of Kentucky, was cited for his performance with his unit during regular weekly drills and the 1960 ANADUTRA (annual active duty for training)."
As a lawyer Rogers was in private practice and was elected to serve as Commonwealth's Attorney for Pulaski and Rockcastle counties in Kentucky, an office he held from 1969 to his election to Congress in 1980.
Rogers was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky in 1979.
He was on the ballot with former Governor of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn. He lost to Democrat Martha Layne Collins 63%-37%. The following year Rogers won election to Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1980, incumbent Republican U.S.
Congressman Tim Lee Carter of Kentucky's 5th congressional district decided to retire. Rogers won the Republican primary with a plurality of 23%. He won the general election with 67% of the vote. He won re-election with at least 65% of the vote since then, except in 1992. That year, he defeated Democrat State Senator John Doug Hays 55%-45%.
Rogers is the longest serving Kentucky Republican ever elected to federal office.
Rogers served as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004.
Rogers has focused his legislation on bringing jobs to Kentucky and providing a better education for Kentuckians. His record reflects these objectives, and from public works projects that provide flood control and clean drinking water, to business and tourism development projects to create jobs, to job training and education programs, his record reflects a sustained focus. Rogers has been the founder of numerous organizations that serve these policy objectives including the Southern Kentucky Economic Development Corporation; the Southern Kentucky Agricultural Development Association; the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association; Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment & Education - UNITE; and The Center for Rural Development. Rogers first such organization was Forward in the Fifth, which promotes better education, and Rogers efforts through Forward in the Fifth brought national attention to his district which at the time had the worst education attainment in the U.S. Through SKED, Rogers has been instrumental in the creation of 10,000 jobs in southern and eastern Kentucky.
In 2001, the City of Williamsburg, Kentucky named their new water park and miniature golf facility the Hal Rogers Family Entertainment Center as a "thank-you for all of the federal money he has brought back to Whitley County, the City of Williamsburg, and the other 40 counties he represents."
In 2003, Daniel Boone Parkway, a part of the Kentucky system of toll roads, was renamed Hal Rogers Parkway (over the objection of some historians) in honor of Rogers efforts to have the parkway's construction bonds paid by the federal government.
This action resulted in the ending of toll collection, as required by Kentucky law when a parkway's construction bonds are paid off by toll collections or other means. The highway runs through Rogers' district, and is scheduled to become part of an expanded Interstate 66.
In January 2003, Rogers' colleagues selected him to be the first chairman of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which is responsible for funding and oversight of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Department is the third-largest cabinet agency behind the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and is home to more than 180,000 employees. Security-related entities such as the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management Service, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secret Service, and Coast Guard fall under the DHS umbrella.
In May 2001, Kentuckians for Better Transportation Chairman Hugh Gabbard hosted an event to recognize and “celebrate Hal Rogers’ two decades of outstanding leadership and distinguished service on behalf of the citizens of his district, Kentucky and the nation. …Rogers is a leader who understands the importance of transportation.
He understands that our national security and future growth depend upon the transportation system.” Noting Rogers was first elected to Congress in 1980, Gabbard said, “Kentucky’s Senior Congressman has earned a reputation for getting things done. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District and Kentucky. His mission has always been the same: to bring jobs, better education, and more opportunities to Kentucky families. During Hal’s tenure on the House Appropriations Committee, he has actively supported programs that provide economic growth, better roads, protection from flooding, and more jobs.”
Similar praise for Rogers leadership in economic development comes from Appalachian Regional Manufacturing (ARM) president Linda McGinnis, whose facility employs over 100 people, "Representatives Bunning and Rogers have done their part in helping to keep jobs in an area that desperately needs it."
"I know of no one in the region who has done more to improve the quality of life in Southern and Southeastern Kentucky," said Charlene Harris, chair of the SCC board of directors at the naming of the Harold D. Rogers Student Commons Building at KCTCS Somerset campus.
Rogers has been widely criticized by both liberal and conservative pundits for his priorities when it comes to national security. National Review referred to Rogers as "a national disgrace" and Rolling Stone named him one of America's "Ten Worst Congressmen", calling him "Bin Laden's Best Friend" due to the fact that Rogers steered federal homeland security money away from large cities to his home district, which critics claim is one of the least likely terrorist targets in America because of its lack of any notable monuments or population centers. In 2007, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Congressman Rogers to its list of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress.
On May 14, 2006, the New York Times reported that Rogers had used his legislative position as chairman of the House subcommittee that controls the Homeland Security budget to create "jobs in his home district and profits for companies that are donors to his political causes." The Lexington Herald-Leader in 2005 called Rogers the "Prince of Pork". The Times article reported that Rogers had inserted language ("existing government card issuance centers") into appropriations bills that effectively pushed the federal government into testing at a cost of $4 million older, inappropriate technology for a new fraud-resistant green card for permanent legal immigrants, at a production plant in Corbin, Kentucky, within Rogers' district. The study concluded that the smart card approach was far superior. The Times found that about $100,000 in contributions had come to Mr. Rogers from parties with at least some ties to the identification card effort.
In response to these critics, Rogers has stated, “It should surprise no one that this article from Rolling Stone regarding my activity in connection with the Transportation Worker Identity Card (TWIC) is grossly incorrect, and highly slanderous,” the congressman said. “A true and honest analysis would reveal that my sole interest in TWIC is simply to protect America's seaports, airports, and other transportation facilities from terrorist penetration. To purport that my actions have compromised national security in an effort to bring jobs to Kentucky or for personal gain is an absolute lie.”
On the House/Senate conference decision to bolster the Department of Commerce and support the Clinton Administration priorities, President Clinton remarked, “I commend the congressional leadership, Senator Ernest Hollings, Senator Pete Domenici, Congressman Neal Smith, and Congressman Harold Rogers, for their foresight and support in revitalizing this country through these programs. It is a dramatic step forward for the United States toward a solid economic future.”
Similar praise comes from former President George H.W. Bush, “I'm pleased to see these three distinguished Members of the Congress here. You may not remember this ancient history, but Hal Rogers was my Kentucky State chairman in my quest for the Presidency. And what a job that guy did, I'll tell you.”
Kentucky state biographer Amy Witherbee commented on Rogers service, “Rogers' multiple roles on the Appropriations Committee have honed his skills as a bipartisan negotiator, and his economically challenged district often prompts him to stray from hard-line conservative stances. Although voting with his party against raising environmental standards on sports utility vehicles and against a controversial amendment that would have prohibited oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Rogers has been the creator and leading proponent of large environmental protection and clean-up programs throughout the Appalachian region.”
“In addition, Rogers' reluctance to involve the federal government in local issues has not deterred him from supporting a multitude of economic development programs aimed at creating new job bases in economically disadvantaged areas, and particularly in Appalachia. In 1993, Rogers was one of only three Republicans to vote for then-President Bill Clinton's economic stimulus package. In March 2003, Rogers' ability to work through the bipartisan tangles of the Appropriations Committee won him the chairmanship on the subcommittee designated to control funding for the new Department of Homeland Security,” noted Witherbee.
Ready evidence is found on March 20, 2008, when the invitation to testify in support of environmental legislation by Democrat House Majority Leader Rep. Rocky Adkins, and, on the same day, a rare invitation to speak from the Senate floor was afforded by Republican Senate Majority Leader Senator David L. Williams of Cumberland County as part of the Senate’s unanimously passed bipartisan resolution honoring Rogers for his service.
Rogers called a bill to reduce funding for law enforcement "the result of this new Republican majority’s commitment to bring about real change in the way Washington spends the people’s money."
Rogers had three children with his wife, Shirley Rogers. She died of cancer in 1995. Rogers married the former Cynthia Doyle Stewart in May 1999. They were introduced in 1998 by former Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist, an old House colleague, and were married at the Tennessee governor's mansion.
November 19th, 2011