Serving in his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Henry Cuellar proudly represents Texas’ 28th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Laredo, San Antonio, Mission and Rio Grande City. Congressman Cuellar supports equal opportunity for men and women of all backgrounds. His legislative principles are based on the belief that education, family values and hard work should open doors to new opportunities for all Americans.
Congressman Cuellar serves as the only Texas Democrat on the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee. He is the Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, while also serving on the Defense Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. Congressman Cuellar was named Chief Deputy Whip for the 116th Congress.
The Lugar Center and Georgetown University have consistently ranked him a strong supporter and champion of bipartisan initiatives. He was ranked as the most bipartisan democrat of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 115th Congress in Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy’s “Bipartisan Index.”
As one of eight children born to migrant farm workers in Laredo, Texas, Congressman Cuellar was raised with a passion for education and an unwavering work ethic, as he sought to attain his educational goals. As the most degreed member of Congress, he credits his education with informing his public service to Texas.
After earning his associate degree from Laredo Community College Summa Cum Laude, he enrolled in Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Here, while working part-time jobs to accord his graduate degree, the Congressman still managed to graduate Cum Laude, a reflection to his academic commitment. When he returned to Texas, Congressman Cuellar completed a Master’s Degree in International Trade at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and earned both a Juris Doctor and Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. Recently, Dr. Cuellar received a Professional Certificate in Budget and Finance from Georgetown University.
In 1981, Congressman Cuellar started practicing law and later became a licensed Customs Broker in 1983 and taught at Laredo State University (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, Texas Secretary of State and now as a U.S. Congressman. Congressman Cuellar has been an educator, lawyer, small business owner and public servant.
Congressman Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, reside in Laredo, Texas with their two daughters, Christina and Catherine.
As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, which oversees all federal funding for agricultural programs, Congressman Cuellar has taken proactive stances on agricultural issues of critical importance to the 28th District of Texas’ rural communities. The Agriculture Subcommittee is responsible for reviewing funding for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Farm Credit Administration, Farm Credit System Financial Assistance Corporation, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It provides funding for farmers, ranchers, rural development, small business development, nutrition programs, food banks, school lunches, telemedicine equipment, computers, software and construction broadband facilities.
Over the years, he has worked closely with the Texas Farm Service Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to secure funding to fight cattle fever ticks, to combat the citrus greening disease, and secure drought relief and assistance for Texas farm owners. In 2018, he strongly supported H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill. The measure extended all federally funded agricultural and nutritional programs for five additional years. This not only included support for farmers and ranchers in Texas, but across the U.S.
Congressman Cuellar continues to focus on providing ample funding to the USDA’s Rural Development Agency. Among many initiatives, this Agency helps support innovative projects that address the opioid crisis in rural America. This year, the Congressman ensured the Department received $50 million for its Rural Community Facilities Program Grants. Additionally, more than $1 billion was appropriated through the Congressman’s “10-20-30” program language. This directs USDA and the Department of Interior to prioritize and set aside at least 10 percent of federal funding through specific programs for counties where 20 percent or more of the population has lived in poverty over the past 30 years (“persistent poverty areas”).
Congressman Cuellar understands the important role the Agriculture Subcommittee plays in providing all Americans with the safest, most abundant food source in the world as well as the support it offers to America’s farmers and ranchers. His appointment to the Subcommittee will allow him to more actively take part in addressing agricultural issues of critical importance to rural communities, in the 28th Congressional District of Texas, and across the country.
Border & Homeland Security
Native to the U.S. southwest border, Congressman Cuellar understands the importance of protecting our nation from modern day international security threats. Congressman Cuellar believes in finding 21st century solutions to our nation’s challenges. While serving on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, he has passed measures which increase both transparency and oversight of immigration detention centers and opposed the funding of a wall at the border. Instead of constructing border walls, a 14th century solution, the Congressman introduced more effective alternatives, such as modernizing land ports of entry and our security infrastructure, bolstering U.S. Border Patrol vehicles and checkpoints, and increasing border patrol agent salaries to reduce attrition.
Congressman Cuellar believes in coordinating the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to better protect our southwest border and respond to evolving threats and violence associated with drug and human trafficking, weapons smuggling, terrorism, arms trades, illegal cash flow, and contraband movement across our nation’s borders. 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 signed into law 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.
Energy and Environment
Congressman Cuellar supports domestic energy as a means to support U.S. energy and economic independence. By balancing our energy needs with the availability of domestic resources, we can help minimize global environmental impact and maximize American self-sufficiency. Congressman Cuellar believes the U.S. has numerous domestic energy resources which can be better utilized, and Congress must continue making investments in all forms of domestic energy production, including oil, natural gas, wind, solar and other alternative energy fuels. This will facilitate sustained economic growth in Texas and the rest of the country.
The 28th Congressional District of Texas, is both the 6th largest oil producing and 4th largest natural gas producing district in the state. It includes a large portion of the Eagle Ford Shale reserves; one of the most productive natural gas fields in the country. In order to support this production, last year, Congressmen Cuellar helped secure $13 million in federal funding towards the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project (CIP). CIP is a USACE project to expand the Port’s ship channels, allowing vessels to navigate the channel safely, meeting surging global demand for U.S. produced oil and natural gas. The Port of Corpus Christi is the largest export port of U.S. produced crude oil and is a major export hub for U.S. energy products.
Health Care in the 28th District of Texas
The 28th District of Texas faces unique health care challenges. The district has a large number of residents who live in medically underserved minority and rural communities. These communities also have a large number of children and parents who are either uninsured or underinsured. Elderly residents depend on Medicare and Medicaid, in addition to other sources of federal funding.
While in the Texas Legislature, Congressman Cuellar was the coauthor of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) pilot program in Texas that has expanded coverage to hundreds of thousands of Texas children. Since being elected to Congress, he has worked to support America’s health care system through legislation and federal grant opportunities. He is a strong supporter of our community health clinics and those medical centers which play a vital role in delivering health care, primary care and preventative care to our region.
For his continued work in health care, Congressman Cuellar has received numerous awards from the health care industry and has successfully worked to bring federal investments to local health care centers in the 28th District of Texas. To help support community health, Congressman Cuellar worked on the Appropriations Committee to secure over a billion dollars for Community Health Centers. Additionally, he pushed for the inclusion of funding for Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) in order to reduce child and youth mortality and morbidity resulting from severe illness or trauma.
Congressman Cuellar has been a champion for the expansion of health care coverage throughout his district, especially in underserved colonia areas along the border. Additionally, thousands of elderly Texans rely on Medicare to safeguard their physical health during their retirement years. Congressman Cuellar is committed to strengthening Medicare for our seniors and seeing that the federal government honors that obligation.
Standing By Veterans
Congressman Cuellar believes we have an obligation to care for and honor America’s veterans and their families for their undeniable service. This includes securing new benefits to American veterans and increasing their support systems at home. In the U.S. House of Representative’s fiscal year 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, he secured language encouraging the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to work with local service agencies, particularly in small and rural communities, to ensure that voucher recipients of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program (HUD-VASH) receive quality services.
He has worked to upgrade the GI Bill, increase funding for veteran health services, introduce caregiver support measures, and revitalize the VA Home Loan program. He has also had the privilege of honoring our veteran military personnel through the dedication of several federal post office buildings.
This year, in the House Appropriations Committee, the Congressman has helped secure over $108 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), an increase of $7.8 billion – nine percent – over the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This includes funding to increase access to services for veterans, and to increase oversight and accountability within the department. The Congressman also worked through the appropriations process to help expand tele-medicine to rural areas. His language will help promote the use of electronic and telecommunications technologies to support remote health care delivery for those veterans who cannot easily access a doctor’s office.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Congressman Cuellar has always recognized the increased need for transportation infrastructure trade facilitation in Texas’ 28th Congressional District. He continues to work in Congress to secure necessary federal funding to complete numerous critical projects across South Texas.
The Congressman has sought to allow for automated pre-screening and inspection data collection of U.S.-bound cargo earlier in the supply chain. At the border, he is funding the automatization certain functions allowing CBP Officers to focus inspection skills on high-risk enforcement, security and compliance shipments. This includes integrating technologies such as robust WIFI capability, Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID), drive through multi-energy truck portal X-ray systems and other CBP cargo processing systems into a common software package, and include modern traffic control queueing systems.
He has also helped to build an air traffic control tower with an operations center, X-Ray Image analysis stations, and cameras to monitor activities through the compound in real time and provide managers with container status at any point. This includes a state-of-the-art Inspection and Technology Training Center and Agricultural Laboratory. His goal is to maximize joint inspections with other U.S. Federal, State, and Mexico Customs partners to the greatest extent possible by providing flexible and scale-able inspection areas to meet future needs including bypass lanes.
Congressman Cuellar has helped secure over $100 million in investments for expansion and improvements of the World Trade International Bridge in Laredo, which is the largest in land port of entry of the United States. This has led to more efficient processing, increased cargo capacity and reduced wait times. Federally funded infrastructure at the border, such as this, create millions of additional dollars in economic output and create jobs, while securing Texas’ 28th District as a world trade hub. The World Trade Bridge facilitates over $300 billion in trade through the transport of over 2 million trucks crossing annually.
The Congressman has helped facilitate the awarding of over $181 million in federal grants to the Laredo International Airport. This support has allowed for infrastructure improvements that will continue to attract international trade revenue to local communities, while increasing the overall safety and efficiency of the airport. Additionally, Congressman Cuellar included funding and language in the FY20 Energy and Water Development bill to support water infrastructure projects such as Mission Reach and Chacon Creek and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project (CIP).
The Congressman wholeheartedly supports these robust infrastructure efforts due to South Texas’ continued economic boom based on surging international trade markets. He believes it is essential to continue to capitalize on the nearly $1.7 billion in goods that flow across the border every day. In 2018, trade between the U.S. and Mexico exceeded $611.5 billion. In 2018, there was $265 billion in U.S. exports to Mexico and $346.5 billion in imports from Mexico. The Congressman intends to continue to facilitate access to these sources of economic prosperity for Texas’ 28th District and the entirety of the U.S.
Trade and Economy
As a member of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, Congressman Cuellar is dedicated to reducing the nation’s deficit through increasing Congressional federal spending oversight and reforming trade and transport regulatory policies. Additionally, 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. What informs these two related policy areas is the unique needs and profile of Texas’ 28th District. As a Representative of a district on the U.S.-Mexico border, he balances the interests of communities which are dependent both on international trade and small town economies.
Congressman’s Cuellar’s district contains the nation’s largest inland port of entry. Laredo is the gateway to U.S. freight trade with Mexico and Central America. 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.
Separately, his district has a need for unique fiscal resources in order to supply their burgeoning small business industries. Congressman Cuellar believes in thoughtful banking and loan regulatory policies that are tailored to exclude unnecessarily constraining small financial institutions from supplying funding to his district. To supplement these private funding resources, he has committed himself to providing sources of federal funding for small businesses.
Congressman Cuellar included funding in the Appropriations Committee for Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), which provided local, in-person counseling and training services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the country. Additionally, he ensured funding was added to the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which facilitates access to the investment capital and financial services that underserved communities need to prosper. He continues to support local economies, privately owned businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit that defines South Texas.
As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Congressman Cuellar has committed himself to allocating hard-earned taxpayer dollars efficiently, and holding the Department of Defense to a high standard in overseeing how those funds are spent and how they directly benefit those in his district.
Congressman Cuellar has helped fund the U.S.’s cybersecurity and cyber defense systems and continues to support the industry in his district. The 24th and 25th Air Force are located in Texas’ 28th congressional district at JBSA-Lackland. Additionally, San Antonio is building a Cyber Innovation Center to further public-private partnerships. This industry is fueled by local San Antonio colleges and universities and their dynamic cybersecurity programs. Furthermore, JBSA-Randolph, also located in Congressman Cuellar’s district, plays a vital role in training Air Force pilots.
Congressman Cuellar also strongly supports educational opportunities for Minority and Hispanic students within the military. He believes the U.S. must increase the science and math educational programs offered to these students. He also has urged the Department of Defense to continue to open opportunities for partnerships with local area hospitals. He is focused on the health needs of military members to ensure they have the care they deserve. He continues to work to ensure that these opportunities are created and positively influence and care for our active duty servicemen and women.
Congressman Cuellar believes education is an investment in the future of our nation. By providing necessary resources, such as student aid, he helps ensure South Texas students are afforded an education leading to professional success and the development of well-rounded individuals. Congressman Cuellar is committed to investing in schools, teachers, and students today for the future of America.
As the most degreed Member of Congress, he strongly supports the education community. He continues to ensure ample funding for underrepresented public schools, protecting low-income and at-risk students, and promote college affordability, creating a high-skilled, 21st-century workforce prepared for the rigors of a competitive global marketplace. Education is the foundation on which the U.S. economy and democracy rest.
Congressman Cuellar authored the TEXAS Grant program – the largest in Texas history – that today gives thousands of students the opportunity to achieve a college education. He helped secure funding for Pell Grants and a $100 increase in the maximum annual award per student through the Appropriations Committee. He also included funding to expand education programs for low-income students in the 28th District of Texas, such as the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) and Federal TRiO programs. Furthermore, he secured language that helps establish partnerships with higher education institutions, including Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and other minority serving institutions.
Additionally, he fought to secure funding towards the State Agency Program for Migrant Education. This program supports special educational and related services for children of migrant agricultural workers and fishermen. These funds are critical to families who make their living in agriculture and whose children should not be penalized in any manner due to frequent relocations. In order to fuel domestic growth and lower unemployment rates, Congressman Cuellar believes we need to support all children’s futures, while generating a thriving workforce that is globally competitive.
In the 116th Congress, Congressman Cuellar serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee as the only Texas Democrat. The Committee oversees federal budget allocations, reviewing proposed expenditures and crafting the legislation that outlines annual spending for government agencies. Within this committee, Congressman Cuellar is the Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. He also serves on the Defense Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. His legislative priorities have made him a champion for government transparency and accountability, authoring and passing measures in Congress reforming federal agency procedures and eliminating bureaucratic redundancy.