Rep. Mike Rogers may be a big deal in Congress, but he doesn’t put on any airs in his rural Alabama district, leaders of Alabama’s electric cooperatives say.

“He still drives to meetings in his old, beat-up pickup truck wearing his jeans,” says Sean Strickler, vice president of public affairs at the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. “I’ve never seen Mike Rogers act fake. He is who he is, and he’s still that hometown guy.”

Rogers has served in Congress for nearly 20 years and is the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. During his tenure in the House, he’s proven to be a good friend to Alabama’s 23 co-ops, Strickler says.

“Mike understands that if something is a problem for us, it’s a problem for him,” says Strickler, who has known Rogers for 25 years. “Mike is always with us.”

The congressman worked in a bipartisan way with Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., to help pass the RURAL Act in 2019. The crucial bill prevented co-ops from losing their tax-exempt status when they accept government grants for disaster recovery, broadband service, renewable energy or other projects.

This year, Rogers is co-sponsoring one of NRECA’s major legislative priorities: the Flexible Financing for Rural America Act. The bill would allow electric co-ops to refinance their Rural Utilities Service loans at lower interest rates without being hit with prepayment penalties. Co-ops could save billions of dollars in interest payments if the legislation passes.

In Alabama, Rogers has worked to get co-op reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after natural disasters and has also helped secure federal funding for co-ops that want to provide broadband service to their rural communities.

“Mike grew up in a rural part of Alabama in Calhoun County, so he knows how important co-ops are in spurring economic development in rural areas and providing reliable, affordable energy,” Strickler says.

The 63-year-old Rogers is a sixth-generation East Alabamian, according to his official biography. He grew up in the small village of Blue Mountain, where his mother worked in the local textile mill and his father was a firefighter.

Rogers says he’s “honored to fight on behalf of rural communities in Congress.”

“It is critical that the voices of those in rural America are heard in D.C.,” he said. “Co-ops are a vital part of our communities, and they are the first folks to help out rural America in times of need like natural disasters. I am proud of my work in Congress to ensure they have what they need.”