FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — On September 2, 2021, Congressman Hal Rogers made Kentucky history. He became the state's longest-serving member of Congress.
Rogers won his first congressional election in 1980. He has been elected to 21 consecutive terms to represent the people of Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District - one of the poorest districts in America.
The Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives confirmed that on September 2, 2021, Rogers will have officially served 14,852 days in office. This milestone surpassed the late U.S. Rep. Bill Natcher, a Democrat from Kentucky’s 2nd Congressional District, who served 14,851 days in office.
Rogers' milestone was celebrated at the Kentucky Senate on Thursday, where he told the crowd that he's not done working for Eastern Kentucky.
"In my case, 40 years is not enough," said Rogers. "I’ve got more to do, and more questions to ask - more promises to keep."
Rogers has been credited for accomplishing big projects like launching KentuckyWired, a partnership to connect every county in Kentucky with high-speed broadband, with former Governor Steve Beshear.
Rogers has also secured nearly $800 million for flood control projects, like flood control along the Cumberland.
He admits he never imagined he would be in Congress for four decades.
"That's a dream worth dreaming but I didn't think people would put up with me that much," said Rogers.
And 40 years in Congress has come with some criticism. For example, a New York Times article from 2006 investigates Rogers' role in the Department of Homeland Security's tamperproof identification card project.
Millions of dollars were invested into the project at the time and production of the cards had no begun two years past the deadline.
"Instead, the road to delivering this critical antiterrorism tool has taken detours to locations, companies and groups often linked to Representative Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who is the powerful chairman of the House subcommittee that controls the Homeland Security budget," the article reads.
However, Rogers likes to focus on the improvements he has brought to his people, and he hopes they'll give him a chance to do more.
"There's a lot of people that need help," said Rogers. "There's a lot of problems that we are working on that need to be finished - flood projects, highway problems, sewer projects - things that people desperately need. So, that motivates me to ask for their support."
Since Rogers was first elected, he has won 20 more terms by comfortable margins. And Rogers has already announced that he plans to run for a 22nd term in 2022.