As founder of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, McKeon is helping to educate members of Congress and the public on the strategic, tactical, and scientific value of unmanned systems. McKeon actively supports further expansion of the entire unmanned industry and hopes to continue effective engagement of the civilian aviation community on UAV use and safety.
U.S Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon is a champion of a strong national defense, the men and women of America's Armed Forces and their families, easing the nation's national debt, and returning fiscal discipline to the Department of Defense.
McKeon was selected by his peers to serve as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in the 112th Congress. He was first named Ranking Member of the Committee in June 2009. His priorities for the Committee include:
- Ensuring our troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world have the equipment, resources, authorities, training and time they need to successfully complete their missions and return home;
- Building on the Armed Services Committee’s strong bipartisan tradition of providing our warfighters and their families with the resources and support they need; and
- Investing in the capabilities and force structure needed to protect the United States from tomorrow’s threats, while mandating fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency from the Department of Defense.
As Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, McKeon fought to strengthen our military and invest in a force postured to meet the challenges of the 21st century, while working to provide the necessary resources for America's sons and daughters in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also led efforts to keep terrorist detainees off of U.S. soil, boost funding for missile defense, and restore the tradition of passing defense authorization bills devoid of controversial social items.
Additionally, McKeon has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between industry and military leaders in order to ensure that our warfighters on the ground continue to receive the support they need and deserve.
McKeon has regularly worked to bolster missile defense programs, support funding for the F-22, and provide enhancements to effective, lighter-weight body armor and mine-resistant vehicles. He has fostered veteran resource programs for counseling, vocational training, and college education.
Prior to serving as the lead Republican on HASC, McKeon was the top Republican on the Education and the Workforce Committee for close to three years, where he advanced conservative policies supporting school choice, teacher quality and accountability, and higher education access and affordability.
In early 2006, McKeon ran the committee as chairman, replacing Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), who stepped down after becoming House Majority Leader.
Before that, McKeon headed the House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness, which examined issues such as higher education, technology in education, teacher training, job training, and welfare reform. In this role, McKeon helped negotiate the formula that resulted in interest rates for the federal student loan program dropping to their lowest level in 38 years. McKeon still serves as a senior member of the Education and Labor Committee.
His leadership in cutting federal spending and reducing taxes also has been noted by several national organizations, including the National Taxpayers Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In addition to his official committees, McKeon is also a member of The Republican Study Committee. This influential group of more than 100 conservative Republicans advances a conservative social and economic agenda in the House. It is also an independent research arm for Republicans.
McKeon was born Sept. 9, 1938, in Los Angeles. He grew up in Tujunga, CA and graduated from Verdugo Hills High School in 1956. After serving a two and a half year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he attended Brigham Young University.
After several semesters, however, McKeon took a hiatus from his studies. During this time, he married his wife, Patricia, started a family, and began his career as a businessman in the Santa Clarita Valley, located in the northern part of Los Angeles County.
He was soon involved in his community through such organizations as the Boy Scouts, Little League, the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Board, and the Chamber of Commerce, among others.
It was three decades later that McKeon returned to college and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1985, together with his eldest daughter. It is for this reason that McKeon is often praised by adult literacy groups. Later, in 2002, he received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Strayer University.
Before coming to Congress in 1992, McKeon served on the William S. Hart Union High School District Board of Trustees from 1978 to 1987. During that time, the city of Santa Clarita was incorporated and its citizens selected McKeon as a member of the City Council.
It was during the council’s first meeting that its members selected McKeon as Santa Clarita’s first mayor. During his tenure on the City Council, Santa Clarita expanded its sheriff’s and parks programs and earned a reputation as one of the safest cities in America. The McKeons have six children and 31 grandchildren and live in Santa Clarita.
Born as one of eight children to migrant farm workers in Laredo, Texas, Congressman Cuellar was raised with strong family values and an unwavering work ethic to attain an advanced education. As the most degreed member of Congress, he points to education as the platform for his two decades of public service in Texas.
After earning his associate’s degree from Laredo Community College, he used the skills and confidence he gained to enroll in Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. While attending Georgetown, he washed dishes and worked other jobs to afford his college degree, graduating from Georgetown Cum Laude. When he returned to Texas, Congressman Cuellar completed a master’s degree in International Trade at Texas A&M International University and earned a law degree and Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.
In 1981, Congressman Cuellar opened his own law firm and became a licensed customs broker in 1983. He worked at his beloved alma mater, TAMIU, as an Adjunct Professor for International Commercial Law from 1984 to 1986. The following year, Congressman Cuellar decided to fully dedicate his life to public service and served as a Texas State Representative from 1987 until he was appointed as the Texas Secretary of State in 2001.
Congressman Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, reside in Laredo, Texas with their two daughters, Christy and Catie.
During his 14 years as Laredo’s State Representative, Congressman Cuellar served in influential leadership positions in the preeminent House Appropriations, Higher Education, and Calendar Committees. While in the Texas State Legislature, he coauthored the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which ensured health care for thousands of previously uninsured children, and he co-sponsored the largest tax cut in Texas history, which included a three-day tax holiday for consumers and small businesses.
He also served on several national legislative committees dealing with state budgets, the U.S.-Mexico border and international trade.
As Secretary of State, he redefined the office by making it easier for Texans to voice their concerns and opinions. Today, Texans still benefit from his new voter initiatives to register, educate, and protect voters’ rights, as well as his efforts to expand the Border/Mexico Affairs office to help the colonias. He also implemented new technology to make state agencies more customer-friendly, transparent and accountable.
In 2005, Congressman Cuellar became the first Laredoan in over 20 years elected to represent the 28th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives.
During his first three terms in Congress, he's stood out among his congressional colleagues as an advocate for better government, commerce and trade, small businesses and border security. As the Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, Congressman Cuellar is widely recognized as a leader on homeland security, border security and national emergency preparedness and response.
In the 112th Congress, he currently serves on two House Congressional Committees, including Homeland Security and Agriculture. Congressman Cuellar has been a legislative champion for government transparency and accountability, authoring and passing legislation in Congress to reform federal agency procedures and to eliminate bureaucratic redundancy. He serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, where he guides policy and legislation in Congress through his leadership role.
As a member of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, Congressman Cuellar is dedicated to reducing the nation's deficit by reforming how Congress appropriates federal funds. In 2009, he worked with his Blue Dog colleagues to help pass the landmark Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) legislation to reign-in federal spending and restore the budget surpluses of the 1990's.
As Chairman and founder of the bi-partisan House Pro-Trade Caucus, Congressman Cuellar is widely regarded as a national trade expert in Washington D.C. Across Texas, businesses and communities alike applaud his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement. As the largest exporter of goods in the nation, Texas currently grosses more than $100 billion a year by conducting trade with other nations.
Congressman Cuellar is currently the Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee in the House Homeland Security Committee. He believes in strong national security and homeland security efforts. Since coming to Congress, he's worked hand in hand with Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement to reinforce border security initiatives along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.
In 2010, the House Homeland Security Committee appointed him as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.
In 2007, he authored the Prosperous and Secure Neighbor Alliance Act to combat drug trafficking and weapons smuggling within border communities. In 2009, he authored and passed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to create a high-level U.S.-Mexico Commission to increase interoperability between law enforcement agencies domestically and in Mexico.
Annually, Congressman Cuellar hosts border security roundtables and conferences with federal, state and local elected officials, law enforcement agencies and local interest groups to solicit input and suggestions on how to better combat drug trafficking along the border.
In 2009, he authored a bill in Congress known as the Southern Border Security Taskforce Act of 2009, which directs the Department of Homeland Security to create a task force to coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local border law enforcement officials to protect U.S. border cities from violence associated with drug trafficking, gunrunning, human smuggling, and kidnapping. In December 2009, this bill was included in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP).
As the only Texas Democrat to serve on the House Agriculture Committee in the 112th Congress, Congressman Cuellar is a staunch advocate for the 12,000 farms and ranches in the 28th District of Texas. During his third term in Congress he worked closely with the Texas Farm Service Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to secure drought relief assistance for Texas' farms. In 2008, he also passed an amendment in the Farm Bill to address cattle fever ticks, making it the first federal bill to specifically address this major South Texas concern. In 2009, Congressman Cuellar helped secure $9.9 million for Cattle Fever Tick Research.
Since coming to Congress, Congressman Cuellar has been a national advocate for equal opportunity for men and women of all backgrounds and he believes education, family values and a strong work ethic can increase opportunities for his constituents in the 28th District of Texas. He continues to improve education, national security, access to affordable health care and veterans assistance programs as a member of the 112th Congress.