William Reynolds Archer Jr.

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William Reynolds Archer Jr.
William Reynolds Archer Jr Official Photo.jpg
Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Speaker Newt Gingrich
Dennis Hastert
Preceded by Sam Gibbons
Succeeded by Bill Thomas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by George H.W. Bush
Succeeded by John Culberson
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
In office
1967–1971
Personal details
Born (1928-03-02) March 2, 1928 (age 89)
Houston, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sharon Sawyer

William Reynolds “Bill” Archer Jr. (born March 22, 1928) is a retired American lawyer and politician. Archer served two terms, from 1967 to 1971, in the Texas House of Representatives – changing from the Democratic to the Republican party in 1969 – and later represented Texas in the United States House of Representatives as a Republican for 30 years, from 1971 until 2001, serving for his last six years as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Background[edit]

Archer was born in Houston, Texas. After graduating from St. Thomas High School, Archer attended Rice University and then transferred to the University of Texas at Austin where he obtained his bachelor's (B.B.A.) and law degrees (LL.B.). At the University of Texas he was a member of the Texas Rho Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Upon graduating from law school in 1951, Archer was admitted to the State Bar of Texas and started up his practice in Houston, Texas. Within months, Archer was drafted and served as a captain in the United States Air Force after the onset of the Korean War. Returning from service in 1953, Archer became the president of Uncle Johnny Mills, Inc. and stayed there until 1963.

Politics[edit]

Meanwhile, Archer started his career as a politician. He served as a councilman and mayor pro tempore for the city of Hunters Creek Village from 1955 to 1962. Five years later, Archer became director of Heights State Bank. During the same year, he became a member of the Texas House of Representatives and served until he was elected the successor for fellow Republican and future president George H.W. Bush as the U.S. Congressman for the 7th District of Texas. Jumping into the race after Bush protégé, James Baker, withdrew, he won his first election with 65% of the vote and was reelected 14 times, never facing serious opposition in what had become one of the most Republican districts in Texas. His 1970 victory turned out to be his lowest percentage; in subsequent years he never dropped below 79% of the vote. He even ran unopposed in 1976, 1990, 1992 and 1994 and faced no major-party opposition in 1998.

Archer served as the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means from 1995 until the end of his political career in 2001. As chairman, he was known to be a "tough fiscal conservative"[1] Archer believed that the government had been taking too much from the United States citizens, and as the chairman he sought to downsize Washington by reducing the money it takes away from the people (in reference to taxes), a political strategy referred to as "starving the beast".

Archer was not a candidate for re-election to the 107th United States Congress and subsequently retired from politics on January 2, 2001.

Archer has taken a politically and socially conservative stance on a variety of issues; among other stances, he supports the death penalty, opposes gay adoption, and has called for cuts in welfare funding. [2]

In 1999, Archer was instrumental in giving temporary Most favoured nation (MFN) status to China, with the support of then-president Bill Clinton, despite deep concerns over human rights issues and the trade deficit. In the last year of his presidency Clinton called on Congress to help him change China’s normal trade relations status with the U.S. to permanent. This would amend the Trade Act of 1974 which had the trade status of China on an annually review to determine the best course of action. The piece of legislation was introduced to the House as H.R. number 4444 on May 15, 2000, by Archer (he had three cosponsors). Introduce to the House the legislation referred to the Ways and Means committee in the House of Representatives to be amended and written up.[1] The legislation was introduced by saying that the bill was a top priority for the rest of the year and it was vital to the U.S. agriculture market to have access to a market that accounts for one-fifth of the world’s population.[2]

Life after politics[edit]

After retirement from politics in 2001, Archer remained active in public life. He is the namesake of a distinguished fellowship program with the University of Texas System, the Archer Fellowship Program (www.archercenter.org). The program brings students from all over the UT System to Washington, D.C. for a full semester of classes and internships in the nation's political center. He was chairman of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation from 2006 to 2009. He currently acts as Senior Policy Analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and occasional guest lecturer.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
George H. W. Bush
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 7th congressional district

1971–2001
Succeeded by
John Culberson
Political offices
Preceded by
Sam Gibbons
Florida
Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee
1995–2001
Succeeded by
Bill Thomas
California