The Texas Democrat previously announced that he would not run for reelection. However, everyone expected him to fill out the remainder of his term. (RELATED: Biden’s Gun Control Agenda Going Nowhere With Congressional Democrats in 2022)
Despite his inconspicuous profile, Vela plays a leading role in the Democratic caucus as the vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee.
The Daily Caller reports:
Vela will be the third member of Congress to leave before the end of his term to seek a business role. Republican Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers stepped down in May 2021 to lead the Ohio Chamber of Congress, and Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes left Congress in January to serve as CEO of TRUTH Social, a social media platform founded by former President Donald Trump.
A relative moderate, Vela was one of sixteen Democrats to force Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi into a term-limits pledge in 2018. He was also one of nine Democrats to publicly criticize the Democratic Party leadership’s strategy of preventing a vote on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act out of a desire to pass the still-unwritten Build Back Better social spending package.
The congressman has represented Texas’ 34th District since 2013. The district, which snakes from due east of San Antonio to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, has become increasingly competitive in recent cycles. (RELATED: Crime Spikes in Vulnerable Democrats’ Congressional Districts)
In 2012, then-President Barack Obama bested Republican nominee Mitt Romney by a 23-point margin. Eight years later, Donald Trump came up four points short. Following redistricting, Republicans are expected to pick up one seat in the Rio Grande Valley (the 15th) but the 34th will likely remain in Democrats’ hands.
Vela has signed up to work at Akin Gump, the most successful lobbying firm in the United States by revenue. It also ranks as one of the highest-paying law firms in the country. (RELATED: Jesse Watters Blasts Members of Congress for Pre-War Stock Trading)
Roll Call has more on Vela’s decision to speed up his departure from Congress:
Like all departing House members, Vela will be subject to a one-year ban on lobbying the legislative branch, though he may still provide some level of strategic guidance. He can also lobby the executive branch.
Reporting on the special election to replace him, The Texas Tribune adds:
His close friend, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, announced last year after redistricting that he would run for Vela’s seat in the wake of Texas redistricting. He currently represents the neighboring 15th District based in McAllen.