Biography

Quick Facts About
Congressman Henry Cuellar


 
  • Currently serving his eighth term, he proudly represents the 28th District of Texas
  • Serves on the influential U.S. House Appropriations Committee in charge of overseeing the Federal budget
  • Serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Homeland Security, Defense, and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
  • Member of Congress since 2005
  • Served as a Texas State Representative for 14 years
  • Served as the Texas Secretary of State
  • Regularly hosts “Neighborhood Office Hours” in the district to stay in touch with his constituents
  • With a total of five advanced degrees, Congressman Cuellar is the "Most Degreed Member" serving in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Recognized by the City of Laredo with two schools named in his honor:  the Doctor Henry Cuellar Elementary School and the Representative Henry Cuellar Charter School
  • Honored as Laredoan of the Year, Distinguished Citizen of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year
  • Elected Mr. South Texas 2008 for his significant contributions to the economic growth of Laredo and South Texas
  • Serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law at the University of Houston Law Center
  • Recognized as the 5th most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives for the 115th Congress by The Lugar Center and Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy bipartisan index

The Wall Street Journal calls him "a pro-growth Member [of Congress] in the John F. Kennedy mold." The Dallas Morning News says he's "one of the seven best Texas legislators."  The San Antonio Express-News says that he is “able to expertly thread the bipartisan needle….and a rare — and valuable — commodity in the U.S. House and also notes that “Cuellar's willingness to place his district ahead of his political party is refreshing.” The Ft. Worth says "How does he do it?" calling him "one of the hardest-working lawmakers on Capitol Hill."

The Early Years

Born as one of eight children to migrant farm workers in Laredo, Texas, Congressman Cuellar was raised with strong family values and an unwavering work ethic to attain an advanced education. As the most degreed member of Congress, he points to education as the platform for his two decades of public service in Texas.

After earning his associate’s degree from Laredo Community College, he used the skills and confidence he gained to enroll in Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. While attending Georgetown, he washed dishes and worked other jobs to afford his college degree, graduating from Georgetown Cum Laude. When he returned to Texas, Congressman Cuellar completed a master’s degree in International Trade at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and earned a law degree and Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1981, Congressman Cuellar opened his own law firm and became a licensed customs broker in 1983. He worked at his beloved alma mater, TAMIU, as an Adjunct Professor for International Commercial Law from 1984 to 1986. The following year, Congressman Cuellar decided to fully dedicate his life to public service and served as a Texas State Representative from 1987 until he was appointed as the Texas Secretary of State in 2001.

Congressman Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, reside in Laredo, Texas with their two daughters, Christy and Catie.

Serving Texas

During his 14 years as Laredo’s State Representative, Congressman Cuellar served in influential leadership positions in the preeminent House Appropriations, Higher Education, and Calendar Committees. While in the Texas State Legislature, he coauthored the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which ensured health care for thousands of previously uninsured children, and he co-sponsored the largest tax cut in Texas history, which included a three-day tax holiday for consumers and small businesses.

He also served on several national legislative committees dealing with state budgets, the U.S.-Mexico border, and international trade. Additionally, he implemented new technology to make state agencies more customer-friendly, transparent, and accountable.

As Secretary of State, he redefined the office by making it easier for Texans to voice their concerns and opinions. Today, Texans still benefit from his new voter initiatives to register, educate, and protect voters’ rights, as well as his efforts to expand the Border/Mexico Affairs office to help the colonias. He also implemented new technology to make state agencies more customer-friendly, transparent and accountable.

In 2005, Congressman Cuellar became the first Laredoan in over 20 years elected to represent the 28th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Work in Congress

Over the course of his tenure in Congress, he has stood out among his congressional colleagues as an advocate for better government, commerce and trade, small businesses, and border security.  Congressman Cuellar is widely recognized as a leader on homeland security, border security, and national emergency preparedness and response.

In the 116th Congress, he currently serves on the power U.S. House Appropriations Committee making him the only Texas Democrat to serve on the committee. This committee is in charge of overseeing the Federal budget, reviewing proposed expenditures and crafting the legislation that outlines annual spending for government agencies. Within this committee, Mr. Cuellar also serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Congressman Cuellar has been a legislative champion for government transparency and accountability, authoring and passing legislation in Congress to reform federal agency procedures and to eliminate bureaucratic redundancy. 

Cuellar was named Chief Deputy Whip for the 116th Congress, where he works in a bipartisan manner and serve the American people. He also serves on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, where he guides policy and legislation in Congress through his leadership role. The Congressman is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).

Furthermore, Congressman Cuellar was appointed to Chair the United States-Mexico Interparliamentary Group (IPG) by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the current Congress. The IPG is the official discussion mechanism between the United States Congress and the Mexican government. As a member of this group, Rep. Cuellar hopes to improve relationships between the U.S. and Mexican governments.

As a member of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, Congressman Cuellar is dedicated to reducing the nation's deficit by reforming how Congress appropriates federal funds. In 2009, he worked with his Blue Dog colleagues to help pass the landmark Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) legislation to reign in federal spending and restore the budget surpluses of the 1990's.

As Chairman and founder of the bi-partisan House Pro-Trade Caucus, Congressman Cuellar is widely regarded as a national trade expert in Washington D.C. Across Texas, businesses and communities alike applaud his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement. As the largest exporter of goods in the nation, Texas currently grosses more than $100 billion a year by conducting trade with other nations.

Border Security

Congressman Cuellar believes in finding 21st century solutions to our nation’s issues. While serving on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Congressman Cuellar has secured language that increases transparency and oversight in immigration detention centers and has submitted amendments against the funding of the border wall. In lieu of funding the border wall, a 14th century solution, the Congressman introduced alternative priorities such as modernizing land ports of entry and security infrastructure, funding U.S. Border Patrol vehicles and checkpoints, and increasing USBP agent salaries to reduce attrition.

In 2007, he authored the Prosperous and Secure Neighbor Alliance Act to combat drug trafficking and weapons smuggling within border communities. In 2009, he authored and passed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to create a high-level U.S.-Mexico Commission to increase interoperability between law enforcement agencies domestically and in Mexico.

Annually, Congressman Cuellar hosts border security roundtables and conferences with federal, state and local elected officials, law enforcement agencies and local interest groups to solicit input and suggestions on how to better combat drug trafficking along the border.

Improving Texas

As a member of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Congressman Cuellar is a staunch advocate for farmers and ranches in the 28th district. Over the years, he has worked closely with the Texas Farm Service Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to secure drought relief assistance for Texas' farms. In 2018, he joined his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives by voting for H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill. The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 369-47, will extend all agriculture and nutrition programs for the next five years, that includes support for farmers and ranchers in Texas and across the country. This legislation passed the U.S. Senate, and now moves to the President’s desk to be signed into law. 

Since coming to Congress, Congressman Cuellar has been a national advocate for equal opportunity for men and women of all backgrounds and he believes education, family values and a strong work ethic can increase opportunities for his constituents in the 28th District of Texas. He continues to improve education, national security, access to affordable health care and veterans assistance programs as a member of the 116th Congress.