Latino Clout in Congress Appears to Stay Consistent

Gary Martin, Houston Chronicle, January 8, 2011

The 112th Congress has 26 Latino members, less than the 27 who served for the past two years but a substantial increase from the 19 Latinos in Congress a decade ago, according to records of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

All told, there will be 17 Democrats and seven Republicans of Hispanic heritage in the House, along with Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Early indications are that the lawmakers will likely vote along party lines on hot-button immigration issues, officials said Friday.

Regional differences

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said there is more than ethnicity that will determine how Latino lawmakers vote.

“You have Latinos from Idaho and Washington State. You are going to see regional differences. That will define these members, not just their ethnicities,” Gonzalez said.

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The five new Latino House members include two from Texas: Rep. Francisco Canseco, R-San Antonio, and Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan. Flores, as well as Rep. Jaime Herrera, R-Wash., and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, do not come from Latino-majority congressional districts.

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