Filemon Vela Jr.

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Filemon Vela
Filemon Vela, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 34th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Constituency established
Personal details
Born Filemon Bartolome Vela Jr.
(1963-02-13) February 13, 1963 (age 55)
Harlingen, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Rose Vela
Relatives Blanca Vela (mother)
Filemon Vela Sr. (father)
Education Georgetown University (BA)
University of Texas at Austin (JD)
Website House website

Filemón Bartolomé Vela Jr. /ˈfɪləˌmɒn ˈvɛlə/ (born February 13, 1963)[1] is an American lawyer and politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Texas's 34th congressional district since 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

Early life and education[edit]

Vela was born in Harlingen, Texas and raised in Brownsville, Texas. His father, Filemon Bartolome Vela Sr., was a long-serving United States federal judge. The Reynaldo G. Garza-Filemon B. Vela United States Courthouse in Brownsville is named in Judge Vela's honor. His mother, Blanca Sanchez Vela, served as Brownsville's first female mayor from 1999 to 2003.[2][3][4]

Filemon attended Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, Texas, and went on to receive his B.A. degree from Georgetown University in 1985. During his time at Georgetown, he served as an intern at the Federal Judicial Center – the research and education agency of the federal judicial system. He also served as an intern in Congressman Solomon P Ortiz's Washington, D.C. office. Vela earned his J.D. degree from University of Texas at Austin School of Law in 1987.[2]

Law career[edit]

For more than 20 years, Filemon practiced law in South Texas, as a plaintiff attorney. His legal practice focused on complex civil litigation. As a trial attorney, Filemon successfully represented clients who were the victims of racial discrimination, consumers who had been severely injured by defective products, and employees injured during work.[citation needed]

Some notable cases include Earl Shinhoster v. Ford Motor Company, in which Vela represented the family of deceased Director of the NAACP who was killed in a car rollover accident in what was the largest wrongful death settlements in Alabama history, and Robert Trevino v. Walmart, in which Vela represented a group of American farm workers who were told they could not shop in a Mississippi store.[citation needed]

Vela also represented several South Texas school districts. In Edinburg School District v. Landmark, Vela represented Edinburg to fight for more funding. In Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District v. Landmark, he represented the district in fighting contractors accused of building a poorly constructed school facility.[5]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 election[edit]

Vela decided to run in the newly created Texas's 34th congressional district as a Democrat. In the May 29 primary, Vela ranked first in an 8-candidate field with 40% of the vote.[6] In the July 31 run-off primary, Vela defeated Denise Saenz Blanchard 67% to 33%.[7][8]

In the general election, Vela defeated Republican Jessica Bradshaw 62% to 36%, winning the election.[9]


In July 2013, he decided to quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus because of his opposition to the Hoeven-Corker Amendment that tied border security with a pathway to citizenship. He said "erecting more border fence drives a wedge between border communities which are culturally united."[10][11]

Filemon Vela is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition.[12]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Vela's wife, Rose, was a Republican justice on Texas' 13th Court of Appeals from 2007 to 2012.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hopkins, Christopher Snow. "Texas, 34th House District". Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Johnson, Ty (2014-02-18). "Former Brownsville mayor, feminist 'trailblazer' Blanca Vela dies at 78". The Monitor (Texas). Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  4. ^ "Brownsville's former and only female mayor, Blanca Vela, passes away". KVEO. 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  5. ^ "Full Biography". Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  7. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "TX-TopRaces-Glance-Sum". Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  10. ^ Martin, Gary (2013-07-02). "Rep. Filemon Vela quits Congressional Hispanic Caucus to protest lawmakers' acceptance of border 'militarization' - Texas on the Potomac". Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  11. ^ "Filemon Vela quits Hispanic caucus over border surge - Seung Min Kim". Politico.Com. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  12. ^ "Members". Blue Dog Coalition. Retrieved 7 February 2018. 
  13. ^ "Members". Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  14. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved 14 June 2018. 
  15. ^ Sanchez, Humberto. "113th Congress: Filemon Vela, D-Texas (34th District)". Congressional Quarterly, Inc. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
New district
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 34th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – present
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Marc Veasey
Seniority in the U.S. House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Ann Wagner