Read our 2017 Report Card for Vela.
Vela is shown as a purple triangle ▲ in our ideology-leadership chart below. Each dot is a member of the House of Representatives positioned according to our liberal–conservative ideology score (left to right) and our leadership score (leaders are toward the top).
The chart is based on the bills Vela has sponsored and cosponsored. See full analysis methodology.
Ratings from Advocacy Organizations
Filemon Vela sits on the following committees:
Vela was the primary sponsor of 1 bill that was enacted:
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We consider a bill enacted if one of the following is true: a) it is enacted itself, b) it has a companion bill in the other chamber (as identified by Congress) which was enacted, or c) if about one third or more of its provisions were incorporated into bills that were enacted (as determined by an automated text analysis, applicable beginning with bills in the 110th Congress).
Vela sponsors bills primarily in these issue areas:
International Affairs (50%)Emergency Management (50%)
Some of Vela’s most recently sponsored bills include...
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|Vela’s Vote||Vote Description|
|Aye||S. 140: A bill to amend the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act of 2010 to clarify the use of amounts in the WMAT Settlement Fund.|
Jan 10, 2018. Passed 239/173.
|Yea||H.R. 1039: Probation Officer Protection Act of 2017|
May 19, 2017. Passed 229/177.
H.R. 1039 amends the federal criminal code to authorize a probation officer to arrest a person, without warrant, if there is probable cause to believe that person forcibly assaulted or obstructed a probation officer while performing their official duties. The bill also would direct the ...
|No||H.R. 2146: Defending Public Safety Employees’ Retirement Act|
Jun 18, 2015. Passed 218/208.
This vote made H.R. 2146 the vehicle for passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal currently being negotiated. H.R. 2146 was originally introduced as a bill to address issues with retirement funds of federal law enforcement officers and firefighters. ...
|Yea||H.R. 2048: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015|
May 13, 2015. Passed 338/88.
The USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048, Pub.L. 114–23) is a U.S. law enacted on June 2, 2015 that restored in modified form several provisions of the Patriot Act, which had expired the day before. The act imposes some new limits on the bulk collection of ...
|Yea||H.R. 622: State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act of 2015|
Apr 16, 2015. Passed 272/152.
|Nay||H.R. 83 (113th): Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015|
Dec 11, 2014. Passed 219/206.
This bill became the vehicle for passage of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 [pdf], which was approved by the House on December 11, 2014 and by the Senate on December 13, 2014. The bill was originally introduced on January 3, 2013 by ...
|Aye||H.J.Res. 124 (113th): Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015|
Sep 17, 2014. Passed 319/108.
|Yea||H.R. 4923 (113th): Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015|
Jul 10, 2014. Passed 253/170.
|Aye||H.R. 1947 (113th): Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013|
Jun 20, 2013. Failed 195/234.
|Aye||H.R. 325 (113th): No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013|
Jan 23, 2013. Passed 285/144.
From Jan 2013 to Mar 2018, Vela missed 86 of 3,342 roll call votes, which is 2.6%. This is on par with the median of 2.3% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving. The chart below reports missed votes over time.
Show the numbers...
|Time Period||Votes Eligible||Missed Votes||Percent||Percentile|
The information on this page is originally sourced from a variety of materials, including:
Filemon Vela is pronounced:
FEE-le-mon // VE-la
The letters stand for sounds according to the following table:
|Letter||Sounds As In|
Capital letters indicate a stressed syllable.
Filemón Bartolomé Vela Jr. (born February 13, 1963) 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.
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.
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.
U.S. House of Representatives
Main article: United States House of Representatives elections in Texas, 2012 § District 34
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. In the July 31 run-off primary, Vela defeated Denise Saenz Blanchard 67% to 33%.
In the general election, Vela defeated Republican Jessica Bradshaw 62% to 36%, winning the election.
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.”
Filemon Vela is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition.
Vela's wife, Rose, was a Republican justice on Texas’ 13th Court of Appeals from 2007 to 2012.
- ^Hopkins, Christopher Snow. "Texas, 34th House District". nationaljournal.com. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- ^ abvela.house.gov
- ^Johnson, Ty (2014-02-18). "Former Brownsville mayor, feminist 'trailblazer' Blanca Vela dies at 78". The Monitor (Texas). Retrieved 2014-03-13.
- ^"Brownsville's former and only female mayor, Blanca Vela, passes away". KVEO. 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
- ^"Full Biography". Vela.house.gov. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
- ^"Ourcampaigns.com". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
- ^"Ourcampaigns.com". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
- ^"TX-TopRaces-Glance-Sum". kxxv.com. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- ^Martin, Gary (2013-07-02). "Rep. Filemon Vela quits Congressional Hispanic Caucus to protest lawmakers' acceptance of border 'militarization' - Texas on the Potomac". Blog.chron.com. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
- ^"Filemon Vela quits Hispanic caucus over border surge - Seung Min Kim". Politico.Com. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
- ^"Members". Blue Dog Coalition. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- ^Sanchez, Humberto. "113th Congress: Filemon Vela, D-Texas (34th District)". public.cq.com. Congressional Quarterly, Inc. Retrieved 8 November 2012.