|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Texas's 23rd district
January 3, 2015
William Ballard Hurd
August 19, 1977
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
|Education||Texas A&M University, College Station (BS)|
William Ballard Hurd (born August 19, 1977) is an American politician who is the U.S. representative for Texas's 23rd congressional district, which stretches 800 miles from San Antonio to El Paso, along the U.S.-Mexican border. He took office on January 3, 2015, as a Republican elected to Congress from Texas.
He is one of only seven black Republicans to sit in the House of Representatives since the 1930s, and will be the only one in the 116th Congress. Hurd has been described as a leading congressional voice on technology issues. He has said that the principal role of the government in the lives of African-Americans today should be to empower them to do things for themselves.
Hurd is the son of Bob and Mary Alice Hurd. He is a 1995 graduate of John Marshall High School in Leon Valley, Texas. Hurd attended Texas A&M University in College Station and served as the student body president in 1999 at the time of the Aggie Bonfire collapse. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M in 2000 with a major in computer science and a minor in international relations.
Hurd worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for nine years from 2000 to 2009, stationed primarily in Washington, D.C., including a tour of duty as an operations officer in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. He speaks Urdu, the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan, where he worked undercover. One of his roles at the CIA was briefing members of Congress, which is what made Hurd want to pursue politics. He returned to Texas after his CIA service and worked as a partner with Crumpton Group LLC, a strategic advisory firm, and as a senior adviser with FusionX, a cybersecurity firm.
Hurd announced his candidacy on November 19, 2009, for the Republican nomination in Texas's 23rd congressional district, a district which is two-thirds Hispanic. His electronically filed campaign finance records indicated that he had $70,000 on hand to fund his campaign.
On February 15, 2010, Hurd received the endorsement of the San Antonio Express-News. In the primary election on March 2, 2010, he received the greatest number of votes but failed to receive a majority of the votes cast, resulting in a run-off election on April 13, 2010. He faced second-place finisher Francisco "Quico" Canseco, a San Antonio banker, formerly from Laredo, who was making his third attempt at a congressional seat. Hurd lost to Canseco in the runoff election by a margin of 53% to 47%. Canseco ultimately won the general election but was unseated after one term in 2012.
Hurd once again ran for the 23rd district in the United States House of Representatives elections, 2014. After turning back the challenge of former U.S. Representative Quico Canseco, who had lost re-election in 2012 to Democrat Pete Gallego of Alpine by 2,500 votes, Hurd unseated one-term incumbent Gallego. He was endorsed by the San Antonio Express-News. Hurd conducted a post-election swing through some parts of his district that had heavily favored Gallego in the voting. He was also the only candidate ever to have been endorsed by CIA Director Robert Gates, who was a great admirer of Hurd's work for the CIA and disappointed by his departure to run for public office. Gates has said that Hurd "has the character and the integrity and the leadership skills for higher office."
Hurd was handily renominated for a second term in the Republican primary election held on March 1, 2016. He defeated William "Hart" Peterson, 39,762 votes (82.2 percent) to 8,590 (17.8 percent). After winning renomination, Hurd began to distance himself from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He opposed Trump's "nasty rhetoric" in reference to Muslims and Latinos and the candidate's proposal to build an $8 billion, 1,000-mile long wall across the American border with Mexico. "Building a wall is the most expensive, least-effective way to do border security," Hurd said in an interview. Hurd said he did not need coattails from his party's presidential nominee: "Anybody who is hoping on coattails or macro trends, is not doing his job."
In the rematch with Gallego, the Democrat again tried to tie Hurd to the Trump campaign, which was considered unpopular with Texas Hispanics. Again Hurd distanced himself from Trump: "I never endorsed Donald Trump, and I cannot in good conscience support or vote for a man who degrades women, insults minorities, and has no clear path to keep our country safe. He should step aside for a true conservative to defeat Hillary Clinton." Hurd claimed that Gallego as a representative had been insufficiently aggressive in support for veterans issues and was largely a tool of Nancy Pelosi, the former House Speaker from California known for her liberal politics. A Gallego backer, Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez of Val Verde County, said that turnout would be the key to determine which of the two would represent the district in Congress. However, Hurd ran better in Val Verde County than many of those who opposed him had anticipated. Hurd drew 5,929 votes (45.3 percent) there to Gallego's 7,148 (54.7 percent). Hurd ran thirty-nine votes ahead of Trump in Val Verde County.
In the general election, Hurd narrowly defeated Gallego, 110,577 (48.3 percent) to 107,526 (47 percent), with Libertarian Ruben Schmidt Corvalan of San Antonio earning the remaining 10,862 votes (4.7 percent). Hurd ran sufficiently well in the Bexar County portion of the district and in nearby Medina and Uvalde counties to offset Gallego's large margins in El Paso and Maverick counties, the latter of which encompasses the border city of Eagle Pass.
On March 7, 2018, Hurd won the GOP primary with 80 percent of the vote. No candidate, however, won a majority of the vote in the Democratic primary in his district, forcing a runoff between former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones and high-school teacher Rick Trevino. Ortiz-Jones won the runoff.
In July 2018, it was reported that the race for Hurd's seat was in line to become "the most expensive congressional race in the state's history."
The race was the closest House race in Texas. The Associated Press initially called it for Hurd on election night, but an additional batch of votes temporarily gave Ortiz-Jones a small lead, which Hurd then regained. After all provisional and overseas ballots were counted, Hurd was officially declared the winner on November 19.
Hurd assumed office as U.S. Representative on January 3, 2015. During his first term, Hurd ranked third among freshman House members who had the most bills passed. Much of Hurd's work focuses on bipartisan cybersecurity and technology bills.
In July 2015, Hurd was named to replace Aaron Schock of Illinois as a co-chair of the Congressional Future Caucus, along with Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. In his first term in Congress, Hurd was made the chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (which focuses in part on cybersecurity), which is unusual for a first-term member of Congress.
Hurd is the vice-chair of the Border and Maritime Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee. Hurd was appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for his second term, replacing Mike Pompeo, who departed to head the CIA. Hurd's background as a former undercover clandestine officer led The Daily Dot to call him "The Most Interesting Man in Congress."
In 2015, Hurd voted 96% with his party's position on roll-call votes. As of January 2018, Hurd had voted with his party in 93% of votes so far in the 115th United States Congress and voted in line with President Trump's position in 96.6% of votes.
Vote Smart, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that collects and distributes information on candidates for public office in the United States, "researched presidential and congressional candidates' public records to determine candidates' likely responses on certain key issues." According to Vote Smart's 2016 analysis, Hurd generally supports pro-life legislation, opposes an income tax increase, opposes federal spending and supports lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth, supports building the Keystone Pipeline, opposes the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, opposes gun-control legislation, supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, and supports increased American intervention in Iraq and Syria beyond air support.
In February 2017, he voted against a resolution that would have directed the House to request ten years of Trump's tax returns, which would then have been reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session.
He favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). In 2017, when House Republican leadership introduced the American Health Care Act (a bill to repeal the ACA), Hurd was faced with a political quandary. Hurd did not say whether he supported or opposed the legislation. Ultimately, after the measure was declared dead and withdrawn from a planned vote due to insufficient support, Hurd "released a statement in which he appeared to oppose the overhaul." When the bill came up for a vote again, Hurd voted against it, opposing it because he feared it would hurt people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Hurd called for a ramp-up of U.S. military action against ISIL in Libya and in Syria, using the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan as a model. He blamed ISIL's rise on the Obama administration, accusing it of underestimating the threat. Hurd has written that Islamic extremists "are in it for the long haul, which means that we have to be also." On the broader Syrian civil war, Hurd has written that "the brutal dictator Bashar al-Asad must go."
Hurd has called for greater U.S. defenses against foreign cyber-attacks. Following the Office of Personnel Management data breach, Hurd wrote that federal cybersecurity was woefully inadequate. He opposes applying the Wassenaar Arrangement to cyber technologies, arguing that "attempting to regulate cybersecurity technologies through export controls is a fundamentally flawed approach" that places the U.S. at risk and "will not achieve the goal of curbing human rights violations."
Hurd opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (an international agreement with Iran over its nuclear program), calling it "short-sighted and ultimately dangerous," and called for the U.S. to reimpose various sanctions against Iran, arguing that Iran violated its obligations under the agreement. Hurd has spoken out against Russian aggression, calling the Russian government "our adversary."
Along with Martha McSally and Michael McCaul, Hurd helped draft the Final Report of the Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee.
Hurd questioned FBI Director James Comey's recommendation not to seek prosecution of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over the Clinton e-mail controversy. Referencing his experience in the CIA, Hurd said he knew the importance of classified information because had seen his friends killed and assets put in harm's way to obtain such sensitive information.
In January 2018, Hurd voted down Democratic motions in the House Intelligence Committee to allow the Justice Department and FBI to review the Devin Nunes memo - a document alleging FBI abuses of surveillance powers in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election - before releasing it to the public. The FBI said that it had "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy." Hurd voted against the release of a related memo authored by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.
Hurd has opposed the CIA's efforts to mandate weaker encryption on smartphones and other devices to make it easier for federal agents to unlock them, arguing that stronger encryption thwarts hackers and protects national security.
Hurd spoke out against President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico, saying it was a "third-century solution to a 21st-century problem" and the "most expensive and least effective way to secure the border." Hurd instead advocated for a "flexible, sector-by-sector approach that empowers Border Patrol agents on the ground with the resources they need." Hurd proposed using "a mix of technology. It's going to be significantly cheaper than building a wall. Let's focus on drug traffickers ... and human smugglers."
Hurd has been described "as a leading voice on government technology issues" in Congress.
Allegheny College gave the 2018 Prize for Civility in Public Life to Hurd and Beto O'Rourke, a Texas Democrat. In March 2017, facing snowstorm-induced flight cancellations, Hurd and O'Rourke, both stuck in San Antonio, needed to get back to Washington for a House vote. They rented a car and embarked on a 1,600-mile drive that they captured on Facebook Live. Hurd and O'Rourke have worked collaboratively on important legislation since the road trip.
In March 2017, a three-member panel of federal judges invalidated the Texas State Legislature's 2011 drawing of three congressional districts (Hurd's 23rd district, the 27th district, and the 35th district) finding that the state had intentionally discriminated against black and Latino Texans in violation of either the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act. It is unclear what effect this will have on the three districts, especially Hurd's, as his election victory occurred using a court-approved 2013 interim map that differed from the 2011 map.
Hurd said that a revised district plan would not affect his work in Congress or his hopes of winning a third term in 2018.
The San Antonio Express-News editorial board wrote that "partisan motivations" influenced the drawing of the lines for the U.S. House seats by the Republican majority in the state legislature. The newspaper hence called for an independent commission to draw the lines every ten years. "The process itself is fatally flawed. It discriminates against the state's minority voters," the newspaper continued, by creating more Republican districts than justified by the large minority bloc of voters in Texas.
Hurd has staunchly defended his district apportionment plan before the federal judges who will determine its constitutionality. Noting the dearth of competitive U.S. House districts in Texas, Hurd urged that his swing district be protected from partisan manipulation: "If more districts were like mine, we'd have better-caliber people in Washington."
The 37-year-old worked for the CIA for almost a decade, much of it undercover in Pakistan, where he mastered the national tongue.
Ms. McSALLY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4239, the Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act. This legislation fulfills a recommendation of the Committee on Homeland Security's Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel, of which I was proud to be a member. In fact, our chairman, Mr. Katko, and another member, Mr. Hurd, are with us today to speak on this important legislation.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 23rd congressional district
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority
|114th||Senate: J. Cornyn o T. Cruz||House: J. Barton o L. Smith o S. Johnson o G. Green o E. B. Johnson o L. Doggett o S. J. Lee o M. Thornberry o K. Brady o K. Granger o R. Hinojosa o P. Sessions o J. Culberson o M. Burgess o J. Carter o J. Hensarling o R. Neugebauer o M. Conaway o H. Cuellar o L. Gohmert o A. Green o K. Marchant o M. McCaul o T. Poe o P. Olson o B. Farenthold o B. Flores o J. Castro o B. O'Rourke o M. Veasey o F. Vela Jr. o R. Weber o R. Williams o B. Babin o W. Hurd o J. Ratcliffe|
|115th||Senate: J. Cornyn o T. Cruz||House: J. Barton o L. Smith o S. Johnson o G. Green o E. B. Johnson o L. Doggett o S. J. Lee o M. Thornberry o K. Brady o K. Granger o P. Sessions o J. Culberson o M. Burgess o J. Carter o J. Hensarling o M. Conaway o H. Cuellar o L. Gohmert o A. Green o K. Marchant o M. McCaul o T. Poe o P. Olson o B. Farenthold (until Apr. 2018) o B. Flores o J. Castro o B. O'Rourke o M. Veasey o F. Vela Jr. o R. Weber o R. Williams o B. Babin o W. Hurd o J. Ratcliffe o J. Arrington o V. Gonzalez o M. Cloud (from Jun. 2018)|