Guest focusing efforts on rural America
Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Guest has spent much of his sophomore term in Washington trying to emphasize the needs of rural America.
Guest, who first went into office in January 2019, switched from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs after his first term to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. There, he sits on the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management and the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
Transportation represents the needs of not only Mississippi’s Third Congressional District, Guest said, but also the entire state and much of the country.
“Any time I’m out, particularly with elected officials, that’s what they want to talk about — roads, bridges, water, sewage, and to a degree rural broadband,” he said. “Those are the meat and potato issues in the Third District.”
Guest said getting on that committee was important to ensure that Mississippi has a voice in future transportation bills. He said Mississippi’s transportation needs will also fair better under a Republican-controlled House, which could become a possibility after the November midterms.
“Once the Republicans are able to retake the House, we’re going to have a greater influence in legislation and make sure that we are also prioritizing investment in rural infrastructure,” he said.
Guest said in the committee meetings now, under Democratic control, there’s mainly talk about mass transit, bus needs, subway upgrades, passenger rail, etc.
“Those aren’t the needs of central Mississippi,” he said. “Those aren’t the needs of the State of Mississippi. Those are issues that are very much priorities for Democratic members of the committee though.”
Guest pointed to electric vehicles, for example.
“As we look at transitioning to more electric vehicles, we have to do so in a way to not penalize rural America,” he said. “Electric vehicles may be a fine method of transportation in an urban city, but here some people may drive an hour to work every day. They may drive 30-45 minutes to go see their local physician. Electric batteries aren’t optimal for rural America.”
In addition to working on transportation needs, Guest has risen to a leadership role as the Vice Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security.
In the same way he views rural America with transportation, he does so with homeland security.
“Having risen to a position of leadership on that committee helps me kind of drive and impact the discussions we’re having at that level,” he said. “For instance, a bill we’ve introduced to one making sure there is money out there for rural law enforcement as it relates to bodycams.”
Guest explained that larger governments have budgets to afford to purchase and supply storage space for bodycams but throughout Mississippi there are departments that would like to have the equipment but have no budget for them.
“The federal government can step up in those instances to provide those resources,” he said. “It protects law enforcement…it protects the public…and it’s great for prosecutors.” Guest served as Madison-Rankin District Attorney from 2008-2019 before being elected to Congress.
He also is working to ensure that the Mississippi State Crime Lab and states with similar landscapes do not remain overwhelmed and underfunded.
Despite transitioning from the Committee on Foreign Affairs to focus on transportation needs in the state, Guest continues to offer input in foreign relations and earlier this year took a trip to Israel where he visited with the prime minister, former prime minister, foreign minister and other leaders to discuss Israel’s worries and hopes for the future.
“We were able to see the terror tunnels and stand on the banks of the Gaza Strip,” he said. “We were able to visit some Iron Dome sites and talk with them and see what their security interests are compared to ours.”
Guest said Israel isn’t worried about Russia as much as it is worried about Iran and what a nuclear-armed Iran would look like.
“Every elected official there said that was their single biggest concern,” he said.
All the glitz and glamour of Washington D.C. and the halls of the U.S. Capitol are no substitute for helping people back home, Guest reinforced.
His offices do more with constituent services than anything and that’s something that is really fulfilling for him and his staff.
Whether it’s a problem with Social Security, Veteran’s Affairs, Medicare or another government agency, his staff is there to help navigate the bureaucracy.
“Sometimes those issues are very big,” he said. “Recently we helped a young lady who was in Haiti and was identified by some missionaries who needed medical treatment in the U.S. The delays she was encountering were putting her in a situation where she may not get here in time. We were able to work with some other congressional offices in Florida and get her here in a matter of a couple of weeks. The last report we had was she’s fully recovered.”
For information on constituent services, contact Guest’s office at 769-241-6120 or visit guest.house.gov.