Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2002, 7th term.

Born: May 29, 1957, Stephenville, TX

Home: Dallas, TX

Education: TX A&M U., B.A. 1979, U. of TX, J.D. 1982

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1982-84; TX dir., U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, 1985-90; Exec. dir., NRSC, 1991-93; Communications exec., 1993-2002.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Episcopalian

Family: Married (Melissa Fore) , 2 children

Jeb Hensarling, a Republican first elected in 2002, is a disciplined and politically savvy conservative who is often in the thick of debates on fiscal policy. He served as Republican conference chairman before stepping down in 2013 to chair the Financial Services Committee and lead the GOP attacks on the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. His hard-line stances occasionally put him at odds with the business world.

Hensarling grew up in Morris County in East Texas. He worked on his father’s poultry farm near College Station as a teenager and decided that he did not want to be a farmer. In high school, he started a Republican club and began organizing political events. He graduated from Texas A&M University and went on to get a law degree from the University of Texas. After a short stint practicing law, he got a job on the staff of U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm. Hensarling rose quickly through the ranks of Gramm’s staff and became his campaign manager in 1990. When Gramm’s fellow senators chose him as chairman the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Gramm named Hensarling as his executive director. Hensarling later returned to Texas to become vice president of communications for Green Mountain Energy, a local utility, and was co-founder of Family Support Assurance, a firm that aided child support collections.

After the congressional redistricting in 2001, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, who had represented the 5th District for the previous six years, decided to run in the new and more compact 32nd District on the north side of Dallas. Hensarling became the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 5th District. Like his mentor, Gramm, he listed cutting taxes as his top priority. Against four opponents, he won the nomination with 54% of the vote.

Democrats nominated Ron Chapman, a former Dallas County appellate judge. Hensarling referred to his opponent as “Judge Softie” for his record on capital murder cases. The folksy Chapman tried to paint Hensarling as too extreme for the district, but his message failed to take hold, especially as high-profile Republicans came through the district with endorsements for Hensarling, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Gramm. Hensarling won 58%-40% and has been reelected easily since.

In the House, Hensarling was the Texas delegation’s most conservative member in the 112th Congress (2011-12), according to National Journal’s annual rankings. (He finished second to Kenny Marchant in 2013, but was still eighth overall in the chamber.) He told Fortune in 2014: "I do not subscribe to the theory that what is good for GM is necessarily good for America.”

Hensarling frequently pushes Republican leaders to take more conservative positions, although he usually votes with them in the end when they don’t. He has sometimes differed with House Speaker John Boehner, most notably in 2006 when he managed Indiana Republican Mike Pence’s unsuccessful challenge to Boehner for minority leader. Hensarling developed a key ally in the similarly message-driven Republican whip, Eric Cantor of Virginia. With Cantor’s backing, he easily won the conference chairmanship to succeed Pence in late 2010. When he stepped down from that post to take the Financial Services chairmanship, he endorsed Georgia Rep. Tom Price over Washington’s Cathy McMorris Rodgers—a Boehner favorite—as his successor. But McMorris Rodgers won.

Unlike Financial Services’ previous chairman, Alabama’s genial Spencer Bachus, Hensarling is known for firmly standing his ground, whether it’s on a cable TV show or at a committee hearing. He clashed on several issues in early 2013 with California’s Maxine Waters, the panel’s fiery new ranking Democrat who is as liberal as he is conservative. One area of disagreement was the Federal Housing Administration, which Hensarling accused of overextending credit to risky borrowers. He has called for the abolition of the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which he said abused their power. But he predicted that doing so would take as long as seven years. “Nobody can wave a magic wand and get this done overnight,” he told The Dallas Morning News in November 2012.

The Wall Street Journal reported in March 2013 that financial industry executives were nervous about Hensarling’s plans to push legislation that could require them to hold significantly more capital and set up new barriers between their federally insured deposits and other activities, including trading and investment banking. But Hensarling is generally supportive of Wall Street. He likened the Dodd-Frank bill in 2012 to “a legislative drive-by shooting,” and aggressively criticized the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was established under the law. Earlier, he helped lead the conservative revolt in 2008 against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Boehner was charged with selling to his caucus. His bill to kill the Emergency Homeowners’ Relief Program, which was set up to provide loans to recently unemployed homeowners who have missed mortgage payments, prompted a rare veto threat from Obama in March 2011.

As chairman, Hensarling pushed through the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act in July 2013 on a largely party-line vote in committee. The bill called for winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and almost completely privatizing the housing finance industry. It drew criticism from the real estate and home-builder lobbies and did not appear to muster enough support to make it to the House floor. Hensarling ran into another problem in March when he objected to a flood-insurance bill and the leadership took it away from him. The bill eventually passed the House, 306-91. "There is a feeling that Jeb can be too ideological," an anonymous Republican House member told Politico.

But Hensarling waved off criticism, saying he should be judged by his entire six-year stint as chairman. "I play a long game," he told National Journal in September 2014. Oklahoma Republican Frank Lucas, departing as chairman of the Agriculture Committee, publicly mulled a challenge that fall to Hensarling for the Financial Services chairmanship, citing frustration among some panel members. Lucas eventually decided against it.

Two other tests loomed for Hensarling in fall 2014. One was over the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a government-sponsored agency that helps sell American-made products to businesses and governments from countries with limited or no access to capital. Hensarling and other conservatives disparaged the bank as a shining example of crony capitalism. But business interests mounted a sustained lobbying campaign to have its charter extended, and succeeded in getting one until June 2015.

The other challenge for Hensarling was the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which backstops financial losses from a terrorism attack. The Senate voted overwhelming in July to extend the program for seven years, two years longer than Hensarling's committee, and a bipartisan group of TRIA's backers expressed opposition to the changes in the law that he had proposed, such as raising the amount of losses needed to trigger the federal backstop. Although outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma blocked the measure from coming up in December 2014, Congress acted swiftly in the early weeks of the 114th Congress (2015-15) to get a six-year authorization into law.

Hensarling served on the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission in 2010 and made clear from the outset that he preferred that it concentrate on federal spending. He opposed the commission’s findings as insufficient in containing health care costs. He also disdained the 2011 budget-cutting deal that Obama struck with Republicans, saying it did not cut spending enough and that “we probably all deserve to be tarred and feathered.” After the protracted standoff over raising the federal debt limit in 2011, he was selected, along with Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, to co-chair the “super committee” that was given several months to forge a bipartisan deal. The effort proved fruitless, leading to what Hensarling called “a huge blown opportunity.” He blamed the Democrats’ unwillingness to negotiate and said Republicans were willing to increase taxes if Democrats agreed to pro-growth tax reform. He specifically blamed Obama for trying to fit $450 billion in stimulus spending into the committee’s mandate and vowing to veto any plan that altered Medicare without raising taxes on the wealthy.

In the 110th Congress (2007-08), he became chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of the most conservative House members. In that role, Hensarling crafted a seven-point strategy for House Republicans that included a constitutional amendment to limit spending and a flat tax on goods and services to replace the federal income tax. The party embraced his platform, except for his call for a moratorium on spending earmarks in appropriations bills. After the 2008 election, Hensarling was named to head fundraising for the National Republican Congressional Committee, chaired by his Dallas-area conservative colleague Pete Sessions. He has remained a prodigious fundraiser, drawing on his financial industry connections to take in more than $4 million during the 2012 election cycle.

But when his onetime ally Cantor unexpectedly lost his primary in June 2014, Hensarling declined to run for majority leader despite encouragement from conservatives who wanted a worthy challenger to Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California. "After prayerful reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the right office at the right time for me and my family,” Hensarling said.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3484

(202) 226-4888

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2228
Washington, DC 20515-4305

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3484

(202) 226-4888

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2228
Washington, DC 20515-4305

DISTRICT OFFICE

(214) 349-9996

(214) 349-0738

6510 Abrams Road Suite 243
Dallas, TX 75231-7278

DISTRICT OFFICE

(214) 349-9996

(214) 349-0738

6510 Abrams Road Suite 243
Dallas, TX 75231-7278

DISTRICT OFFICE

(903) 675-8288

(903) 675-8351

810 East Corsicana Street Suite C
Athens, TX 75751

DISTRICT OFFICE

(903) 675-8288

(903) 675-8351

810 East Corsicana Street Suite C
Athens, TX 75751

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(972) 271-7788

PO Box 820504
Dallas, TX 75382-0504

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 820504
Dallas, TX 75382-0504

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Staff

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Abortion

Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

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Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

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Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

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Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

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Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Environment

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

Govt Ops

Margaret Smith
Constituent Liaison; Office Manager

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

Health

Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

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Barbara Luce
Casework Director

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

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Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

Medicare

Barbara Luce
Casework Director

Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Military

Margaret Smith
Constituent Liaison; Office Manager

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

Religion

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

Science

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Barbara Luce
Casework Director

Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Tax

Margaret Smith
Constituent Liaison; Office Manager

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

Technology

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

Telecommunications

Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

Trade

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

Transportation

Kyle Jackson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Veterans

Margaret Smith
Constituent Liaison; Office Manager

Lauren Toomey
Legislative Counsel

James Redfield
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Jeb Hensarling
Votes: 134,091
Percent: 64.4%
Linda Mrosko
Votes: 69,178
Percent: 33.22%
2012 PRIMARY
Jeb Hensarling
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Jeb Hensarling
Votes: 106,742
Percent: 70.53%
Tom Berry
Votes: 41,649
Percent: 27.52%
2010 PRIMARY
Jeb Hensarling
Votes: 49,295
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Jeb Hensarling
Votes: 162,894
Percent: 83.59%
Ken Ashby
Votes: 31,967
Percent: 16.41%
2008 PRIMARY
Jeb Hensarling
Votes: 45,803
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (71%), 2008 (84%), 2006 (62%), 2004 (64%), 2002 (58%)

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