2017-03-15 / Farm & Ranch

Kika de la Garza, longtime House Agriculture chairman, dies

MCALLEN, Texas (AP) Former U.S. Rep. Kika de la Garza, longtime chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, has died at the age of 89.

De la Garza's wife, Lucille de la Garza, said her husband died Monday morning at a rehabilitation center in McAllen after a long illness.

Christened at birth Eligio de la Garza, he earned his law degree from St. Mary's University before becoming the first Mexican American to be elected to Congress from his heavily Hispanic, largely agricultural South Texas district in 1965. He was immediately assigned to the Agriculture Committee and retained that seat for his entire 32-year House tenure, becoming its chairman in 1981. He held the chairman's gavel until the Republicans took control of the House in 1995, and he retired two years later.

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