Visitors don’t have to spend more than a few minutes in Rep. Rubén Hinojosa’s (D-Texas) office before it becomes abundantly clear that family is the most important thing in his life. The seven-term Congressman — one of 11 children — has five children and six grandchildren.
[IMGCAP(1)]“I want to tell you of what we call the core values of the Latino community, and that’s family and community,— Hinojosa said on a recent tour of his space in the Rayburn House Office Building.
While many Members opt to hang nothing but animal heads or oil paintings on their office walls, Hinojosa has chosen to hang photos from his life. His fourth-floor office is decorated with pictures of his family members, who often share a frame with political titans like former President Bill Clinton and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). In one photo, the Hinojosa family is mugging for the camera with Clinton at a birthday party in 2000 for Hinojosa’s daughter Karén.
“My youngest of five children — Karén — was going to celebrate her fourth birthday, and Bill Clinton was coming into town,— Hinojosa said. “My wife said, Why don’t you come and celebrate Karén’s birthday?’ and sure enough he did!—
Clinton had been making a campaign stop in McAllen, Texas, in support of Hinojosa, who was running for his third term. The former president took part in the celebration, even going so far as to sing happy birthday to the young girl. At the party, Hinojosa’s other children presented Clinton with a letter from some of their classmates.
Clinton “responded with an acknowledgment of their nice letter and telling them to work hard because they were the future leaders of our country,— Hinojosa said with a grin. “My little girl is just as proud as she can be of having the president do that.—
[IMGCAP(2)]Another large photo mounted on the wall shows the familiar scene of Pelosi handing the gavel over to a group of children in the House of Representatives when she was sworn in as Speaker in January 2007. To Pelosi’s right there is a young girl with her arm outstretched, eagerly grabbing the gavel. This girl is once again Hinojosa’s daughter Karén.
“My daughter was the first one to take the gavel,— the Congressman said with a laugh. “She appeared in newspapers like the Washington Post, the New York Times, all the way to California. Her friends said she had become a rock star being with Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House.—
In addition to family, education is also extremely important to Hinojosa. He proudly holds up a photo of his oldest grandson, Ben, who is 17 years old. Not only is he a star baseball pitcher, but he is also a star in the classroom, Hinojosa said.
“I’m very proud of how this young man has developed academically with a 3.9 [grade point average] and is still able to be one of the athletic stars,— he said.
This pride in education extends beyond his family and ranks as one of Hinojosa’s top legislative priorities. The Congressman sits on the Education and Labor Committee and leads the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness. In honor of this, Hinojosa displays a framed copy of a bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act that is signed by former President George W. Bush. A handwritten note at the bottom of the bill reads: “Thank you for all your efforts and assistance. George.— There is also a photo of Hinojosa posing with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) at the bill signing.
In the end, as he toils away over legislation, Hinojosa said he wants to make his family proud.
There’s “no question that when my kids see legends like Sen. Kennedy and then two Members of Congress like George Miller and myself, that makes them pretty proud,— he said. “The story just goes on and on about family and community.—
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Correction: June 8, 2009
The article misstated the size of Rep. Rubén Hinojosa’s family. He is one of 11 children.