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Biden names Texas Congressman Vela as a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee

The Corpus Christi Caller Times logo The Corpus Christi Caller Times 1/15/2021 John C Moritz Austin Bureau USA TODAY NETWORK, Corpus Christi Caller Times

AUSTIN — Texas Congressman Filemon Vela, who once famously told President Donald Trump where he could "shove" his border wall and who's had an up-and-down relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has been given a leadership on the Democratic National Committee by President-elect Joe Biden.

Vela, who this month began his fifth term representing a district that runs from his home in Brownsville up the Gulf Coast to the inland counties north and east of Corpus Christi, was named one of the national party's four vice chairmen.

“I am honored to have been selected by President-elect Biden to continue the important mission of the DNC to fight for equality and opportunity for all,” said Congressman Vela.  “This election saw historic voter turnout, sending a clear message that the American people wanted new leadership and a positive direction for our nation.” 

Vela has been an outspoken critic both of Trump's plan for a border wall and of the Democrats who voted to help fund its construction as part of a deal to end the shutdown of the federal government in 2018. When then-candidate Trump began calling for wall between the United States and Mexico, Vela's color language about where Trump could "shove" it drew national headlines.

More: Vela 'shoves' his way onto Pelosi's leadership team

Biden's written announcement about Vela's appointment to the new post praised the lawmaker's efforts to block funding for the wall and for his efforts on behalf of military families

"Vela has spent his career fighting for immigrant rights, service members, and underserved communities," the announcement said

After the 2016 election, Vela was named to Pelosi's leadership team when she was House minority leader. But six months later, Vela was among a cadre of House Democrats who called on Pelosi to give up her leadership post heading into the 2018 midterms, saying she "doesn’t help (Democratic) candidates in those swing districts."

More: MORITZ: A defeated Trump attempted a grim Texas victory lap during final days in office

But the midterms ended with Democrats winning a House majority, elevating Pelosi to the speaker's chair. And if Vela was ever sent to Pelosi's dog house for his 2017 opposition, he wasn't there long. In early 2019, Pelosi appointed Vela to the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Vela had not served in public office before he was elected to Congress in 2012. But his mother, the late Blanca Sanchez Vela, was mayor of Brownsville for four years beginning in 1999. His father, the late Filemon Vela Sr., was a federal judge appointed to the bench in 1980 by then-President Jimmy Carter.

His wife, Rose Vela, is a former judge on Texas’ 13th Court of Appeals who served as a Republican.

John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @JohnnieMo.

This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Biden names Texas Congressman Vela as a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee


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