Filemon Vela Jr.

Filemon Vela Jr.

Vela in 2012
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 34th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by District established
Personal details
Born Filemon Vela Jr.
(1963-02-13) February 13, 1963
Harlingen, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Rose Vela
Residence Brownsville, Texas
Alma mater Georgetown University (B.A.)
University of Texas (J.D.)
Occupation Attorney, Politician
Religion Catholicism
Website Representative Filemon Vela

Filemon Bartolome Vela Jr. (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

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 graduate 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. from University of Texas at Austin School of Law in 1987.[2]

Law career

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.

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.

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

2012 election

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%-33%.[7][8]

In the general election, Vela defeated Republican Jessica Bradshaw 62% - 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]

Committee assignments

Personal life

Vela's wife, Rose, was a Republican justice on Texas’ 13th Court of Appeals from 2007 to 2012.[12]


  1. Hopkins, Christopher Snow. "Texas, 34th House District". Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  2. 1 2
  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.
  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. Sanchez, Humberto. "113th Congress: Filemon Vela, D-Texas (34th District)". Congressional Quarterly, Inc. Retrieved 8 November 2012.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District established
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 34th congressional district

January 3, 2013  present
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Marc Veasey
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Ann Wagner
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