Jo Ann Emerson retires, the fiscal cliff and MU

Dec 4, 2012

This week on Talking Politics: the latest on Jo Ann Emerson’s retirement and the rush to find a replacement in the US House. Plus, the so-called fiscal cliff, and what it would mean for the University of Missouri system.

On Monday, U-S House member Jo Ann Emerson announced she will be retiring from her post on February 8th. According to a release from her Washington office, she is leaving to become the president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Emerson says she will not step down before the beginning of the next Congressional session because she wants to continue working on issues like the fiscal cliff, completion of the Birds Point levee and Mississippi River navigation challenges.

“All of these require a huge amount of attention, which is why I feel so strongly that there needs to be as short a time period as possible between me leaving and the special election as called. And it’s why I’m going to work until the very last minute before I have to start over at the NRECA,” Emerson said.

Emerson has been in Congress for 16 years, and won her ninth election last month.  Governor Jay Nixon will have to call a special election to replace her, and the Republican and Democratic Congressional District Committees will select candidates to run for the race.

In a District that’s been strongly held by Republicans for decades, Jacob McCleland tells us many Southern Missouri Republicans are jockeying for their shot at the U-S House Seat.

Another note on this story: after the special election, it will be the first time in more than 30 years than someone who’s not an Emerson will sit in that congressional seat. Jo Ann’s late husband, Bill Emerson, represented the southern Missouri district from 1981 until he died in 1996. Jo Ann won a special election that year, and has cruised to re-election ever since.

Sequestration, or the automatic across-the-board funding cuts set to kick in nationwide at the beginning of 2013, would tally nearly $110 billion dollars in cuts over the next nine years. The cuts – part of the so-called fiscal cliff - are meant to alleviate the trillion dollar deficit. Congressional Republicans and Democrats are currently facing a stalemate on a solution to the severe fiscal cuts sequestration calls for while still fixing the deficit. KBIA’s Kristofor Husted reports that millions of dollars are at stake for the University of Missouri System.