Bay St. Louis, Mississippi , United States
|| September 17, 1953
Feb 05, 2013 11:28am
Caucasian - English - Moderate-to-Conservative - Anti Embryonic Stem Cell Research - Anti Marijuana Legalization - Anti School Vouchers - Anti-Affirmative Action - Anti-Bush Tax Cuts (Pro-Tax Cut Rollback) - Anti-Civil Unions - Anti-Gay Marriage - Health Care Reform - Pro- gun - Pro-Capital Punishment - Pro-Life - Pro-Missile Defense - Pro-Tort Reform - Protectionist - U.S. Coast Guard - Catholic - Christian - Straight -
|Info||Gary Eugene "Gene" Taylor is an American politician of the Democratic Party and a U.S. Representative from the 4th District of Mississippi. |
Taylor was born in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Tulane University and also earned additional post-graduate work at University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Park Campus. From 1971 through 1984, he was a member of the United States Coast Guard Reserve, commanding a search and rescue boat and earning several commendations. Taylor is a devout Roman Catholic.
Taylor worked as a sales representative for Stone Container Corporation. He was elected to the Bay St. Louis City Council in 1981, and then to a vacant seat in the Mississippi State Senate in 1983. As a State Senator, Taylor filed a lawsuit challenging the Senate powers of Lt. Governor Brad Dye (D). Taylor and Hale claimed that the LG's control of committee appointments violated the state constitution's separation of powers. The MS Supreme Court sided with Dye, but the suit against a powerful leader from his own party helped establish Taylor's reputation of independence.
In 1988, he ran as the Democratic candidate to succeed Trent Lott in the 5th District. He lost to Harrison County sheriff Larkin I. Smith by almost 10 points. The DCCC offered very little help to Taylor, believing the district to be hopelessly Republican. George H. W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis by a 70%-30% margin in the district, and Trent Lott beat Wayne Dowdy by a similar margin in the Senate race. Although 30,000 Bush and Lott voters split their tickets to vote for Taylor, he could not overcome the GOP tide in the district.
However, Smith died in a plane crash eight months later. In the special election, Taylor picked up 42 percent, leading Tom Anderson (R) and Mike Moore (D). Some Democratic leaders had tried to convince Taylor to stand aside for Moore, the state's Attorney General, but Taylor doubled Moore's vote total. Two weeks later, Taylor beat Anderson with 65% of the vote. Taylor took office on October 24, 1989. He won a full term in 1990 with 81 percent of the vote. He beat well-funded Republican challengers in 1992 and 1996, and has had little trouble in subsequent elections despite representing a district that has not supported the Democratic presidential candidate since 1956. His district was renumbered the 4th after the 2000 redistricting.
Taylor has become a leading member of the House Armed Services Committee. He led committee and floor fights to improve the medical benefits of military retirees, and to extend TRICARE health insurance to members of the National Guard and Reserves. Taylor also was a leading critic of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Taylor served as the Ranking Democrat on the Projection Forces Subcommittee and is expected to be Chairman of the renamed Seapower Subcommittee in the 110th Congress. He has been a staunch advocate of maintaining "Buy American" requirements in Defense contracting, and of maintaining requirements that vessels operating between U.S. ports must be American-flagged, American-made, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens.
Taylor is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House. In 2004 he voted with the GOP leadership 54.2% of the time. He voted for all articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton and has often skipped Democratic conventions. He is pro-life, a supporter of the Federal Marriage Amendment and a firm supporter of the right to bear arms. Taylor is a strong opponent of affirmative action and opposes anti-discrimination laws. He supports the death penalty and is more conservative on issues of immigration, crime and drugs than many Republicans. He has voted in favor of lawsuit reform and tightening rules on personal bankruptcy. Taylor has also voted against many bills and amendments supported by labor unions. He has sided with labor, however, in opposition to trade agreements that he believes are responsible for a decline in U.S. manufacturing, and in support of increasing the minimum wage. Congressman Taylor also supported amending the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget and another amendment requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes.
Taylor has been a severe critic of Bush Administration fiscal policy. Taylor voted against the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003, claiming that they would increase the national debt. He derided the prescription drug plan passed in 2003 as a giveaway to companies that donate to the Republicans. He opposes free trade and was opposed to Bush Administration proposals for Social Security reform. He sponsored a bill that would repeal NAFTA and has voted to leave the WTO. Taylor has a mixed voting record on environmental issues. He has voted repeatedly against the ban on drilling in ANWR, while voting at other times with the mainstream of his party.
Taylor has been a harsh critic of the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. His district took a direct hit from the storm, which destroyed his home in Bay St. Louis. When Republican leaders appointed a committee to investigate the response to Katrina, most Democrats boycotted it because they felt it would be a whitewash. However, Taylor was one of three Democrats invited to attend the hearings because their districts were so hard-hit by the storm. When former FEMA director Michael Brown appeared before the committee, Taylor reacted angrily to Brown's attempts to put responsibility for the failed response at the state and local level.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Jim Clyburn appointed Taylor to chair the Katrina Task Force. The task force has recommended insurance regulation and reforms, construction of Category-5 levees in Louisiana, coastal restoration projects, FEMA contracting reforms, reassigning some responsibilities from FEMA to other federal agencies, and replacing the National Guard equipment and supplies that have been left behind in Iraq.
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