Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995
In 1992 Henry Bonilla became the first Hispanic Republican from Texas to be elected to Congress. Running in a district with a Democratic majority and a large Hispanic population, he appealed to conservative voters and received support from both Republicans and Democrats.
Henry Bonilla was born on January 2, 1954 in San Antonio, Texas, where he attended public schools and graduated from South San Antonio High School in 1972. In 1976 he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. degree in journalism. Most of Bonilla's professional career has been in television news. He worked as a reporter and producer for various television stations in New York City, Philadelphia, and San Antonio. In Philadelphia Bonilla worked as press secretary to former Pennsylvania governor Richard Thornburgh. From 1989 to 1992 he was the executive producer for public affairs at KENS-TV in San Antonio.
In his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Bonilla was chosen to serve on the Appropriations Committee, a position that had not been held by a Republican freshman in more than 25 years. He serves on three Appropriations Subcommittees: Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education; National Security, and the Subcommittee on the District of Columbia.
Bonilla has emerged as a leader in the fight to protect private property owners and reduce the federal burden on small business. He supports term limits of twelve years for both the House and Senate, because he believes term limits will keep Congress more accountable to the people.