Congressman Rubén Hinojosa: A National Champion for Education

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On September 18, 2014, Congressman Hinojosa, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training and Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) was honored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation with the 2014 Hispanic Heritage Award for his long-standing commitment to strengthening the STEM education pipeline for Latinas and Latinos.

As most people from the Rio Grande Valley know, Congressman Hinojosa has spent 18 years of his career in Congress working to strengthen the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline for Latinas and Latinos through his dedicated work on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Congressman Hinojosa won national acclaim for his efforts in partnership with the University of Texas Pan American to create and sustain the STEM initiative known as the Hispanic, Engineering, Science, and Technology (HESTEC) Week. As a result of his efforts, UTPA is now ranked 8th in the nation in the number of engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanics.

As the Ranking member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, he successfully led the effort in Congress to bolster STEM education at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) community colleges and universities by including a provision that added one billion dollars in new investments over a ten-year period.
As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, Congressman Hinojosa also helped lead the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.

In Congress, Rubén Hinojosa is regarded as a champion for the disadvantaged and has distinguished himself as a strong advocate for education, housing and economic development. His primary goal in Congress has been to reduce the chronic unemployment rate in regions of the district. By focusing on developing a highly educated, well-trained workforce, modernizing the local infrastructure including roads and highways, and creating new job opportunities, Congressman Hinojosa has been instrumental in bringing unemployment rates from 22% in 1997 to record lows of 6% in 2008.

Congressman Hinojosa serves on two House committees: the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Financial Services. He serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. Congressman Hinojosa also serves on the Subcommittee on Health Employment Labor and Pensions. He was elected by acclamation in November of 2012 as the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for the 113th Congress.

As a senior member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, Congressman Hinojosa is widely recognized as a champion for investing in human capital through education. He is a powerful voice for the aspirations of communities traditionally left behind in America’s education system: low-income families, minorities, students with disabilities, English language learners, and the children of migrant and seasonal farm workers. He is also committed to making sure that every child graduates prepared and able to afford a college education.

On March 30, 2010, Congressman Hinojosa joined President Barack Obama for the signing of H.R. 4871: The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. This legislation represents the single largest increase in student financial aid since the G.I. bill was signed in 1945. This bill invests $2.55 billion in historically Black Colleges and Universities and in Hispanic-Serving Institutions and other Minority Serving Institutions.
During his 16 years in Congress, Congressman Hinojosa has also succeeded in vaulting Hispanic-Serving Institutions to a position of prominence in higher education. In the 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act, he succeeded in establishing a separate title of the Act dedicated to the development of HSIs. Since that time, funding for HSIs has grown from $12 million to nearly $221 million in Fiscal Year 12.

As the former chairman of the Education Task Force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressman Hinojosa ensures that federal education policy never loses sight of the youngest and fastest growing population in the country – Hispanic Americans. By focusing on a group of proven federal education programs that are critical to the Hispanic community, often referred to as the Hispanic Education Action Plan (HEAP), Hinojosa has helped to secure dramatic increases in resources that enrich Hispanic communities. In the 111th Congress he chaired the Commerce/International Relations taskforce.

Prior to his election, Congressman Hinojosa served twenty years as President and Chief Financial Officer of a family-owned food processing company, H&H Foods. He earned a Bachelor in Business Administration and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Texas in Austin and in Edinburg, respectively. He is married to Martha Lopez Hinojosa and has one son, Ruben Jr., and four daughters Laura, Iliana, Kaitlin and Karén.

On the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Hinojosa serves on two Subcommittees, the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises and the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Congressman Hinojosa is widely recognized as a leader on issues affecting the underserved, from banking to housing. He and Congresswoman Judy Biggert co-founded the House Financial Literacy and Economic Education Caucus in 2004, which currently numbers 87 members from both sides of the aisle.
To address the plight of families in his district and across rural America, Congressman Hinojosa formed the Rural Housing Caucus to bring national attention to the scarcity of housing in rural areas. He introduced legislation to improve the situation and is working with his colleagues and advocates towards the Caucus’s goal. In recognition of Congressman Hinojosa’s achievements in Congress and service to his community, he has received numerous awards and recognitions including the naming of two new elementary schools and the Rubén Hinojosa Highway and the Industrial Park in the Delta Region of South Texas.

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