Congressional Hispanic Caucus Elects New Chairman

PHOTO: Incoming House freshmen of the 113th Congress walk down the east steps of the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, following a freshman class photo.

Veteran Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) has been elected chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).

The caucus, solely made up of Hispanic Democrats, met privately Thursday afternoon to elect its leadership. Hinojosa will take over for fellow Texan Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, who is retiring at the end of this Congress.

CHC leaders generally rose up the ladder in order following Gonzalez's retirement. Hinojosa served as first vice chairman in the last Congress and New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D) will take his place. Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-California) will become second vice chair, filling Luján's previous position.

Freshman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, a cousin of Ben Ray Luján, will serve as whip. Lujan Grisham replaces former Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-California), who resigned from Congress in August.

The new chairman Hinojosa has represented a South Texas district that touches the Mexican border since 1996.

The caucus is losing three members due to retirement or electoral defeats. But nine new Hispanic Democrats were elected to Congress last week, helping boost the total number of Latino congressmen and senators in both parties to 31.

With immigration reform likely to appear on Congress' agenda early next year, this caucus could play a key role in negotiating the bill.

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