Congressman Filemon Vela represents the 34th Congressional District of Texas, which is anchored in Cameron County in the southernmost tip of Texas and runs nearly 300 miles north to Gonzales County. Brownsville is the largest city in the 34th District, which also includes the King Ranch, Kingsville Naval Air Station, and the historic Texas town of Goliad. Land and sea ports are critical to the 34th District’s agricultural producers and the region’s rapidly expanding energy production facilities.
Born in Harlingen, Texas, and raised in Brownsville, Congressman Vela has deep roots in South Texas. His ancestors purchased land from the McAllen family to establish the Laguna Seca Ranch where the first citrus orchard in Hidalgo County was planted. Congressman Vela’s father was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas. His mother, Blanca Sanchez Vela, served as the first female mayor of Brownsville.
Vela attended Saint JosephAcademy in Brownsville, Texas. After graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he attended the University of Texas School of Law. His interest in public service grew from his work helping individuals seek justice in state and federal courts as an attorney for over 20 years in South Texas.
He brings his expertise on border issues to his work as a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security where he was appointed by House leadership to serve as the top Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. He also serves on the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and on the Committee’s Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Border Caucus, he has led efforts to reform the nation’s immigration laws and expand investments in border communities and infrastructure, including ports and roads to expand trade.
Congressman Vela also sits on the House Committee on Agriculture. He was the only Texas Democrat appointed by House leadership to serve as a negotiator on the Conference Committee which drafted the most recent Farm Bill, a comprehensive law, which sets agriculture policy and funding for nutrition programs, including food stamps, for the next five years. Congressman Vela is a member of the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit and the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
In Congress, Vela has been a strong advocate for immigrant rights, education programs including Head Start and Pell Grants for college students, and our community’s federal healthcare centers. He is currently focused on bringing peace and security to our neighbors in Matamoros and Reynosa, and he is working to bring jobs and economic development to South Texas through many efforts including transforming the Port of Brownsville into a competitive deep water port.
Congressman Vela is married to Rose Vela, a former Justice on the Texas Court of Appeals, and they reside in Brownsville, Texas.