Exclusive: Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales Seeks to Co-chair Bipartisan Veteran Caucus

Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales, who represents the 23rd Congressional District of Texas, told Newsweek in an exclusive interview that he intends to seek one of the top positions within the House of Representatives’ bipartisan veterans working group.

The For Country Caucus, as the group is called, provides lawmakers with military service experience a forum to work across party lines in support of bipartisan policy solutions, specifically those pertaining to the U.S. national security and veterans’ affairs.

Gonzales, who served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years and attained the rank of master chief petty officer, told Newsweek the position of caucus co-chair appeals to him because it attracts “natural problem solvers” dedicated to working across the aisle and getting legislation passed.

“For Country Caucus to me has been one of the most effective caucuses as far as helping move legislation through the process,” Gonzales told Newsweek. “I want to take on a leadership role with that to help us kind of get this place working again.”

Though the caucus has only been around since 2018, it has found success working toward its mission of promoting bipartisanship.

The caucus states it successfully helped raise the number of special immigrant visas provided to Afghan allies by more than 30%. It also states that it worked to establish the Arctic Security Initiative, which requires the Pentagon to bolster America’s defense presence in the region.

Through the caucus, Gonzales said he has drawn support for his National Digital Reserve Corps Act, a bill creating a group of individuals that would be dedicated to providing the digital and cybersecurity needs of executive agencies. This bill has attracted eight Democratic and three Republican co-sponsors, but has not been signed into law.

Gonzales said his work on this bill reflects his ability to work across the aisle and foster bipartisanship, a goal he would hope to carry out as caucus co-chair by increasing the number of congressional work trips the group takes together.

If elected co-chair, Gonzales hopes to bolster the influence of the caucus and promote its visibility. It currently boasts 27 members, but Gonzales said few people know it exists. Under his leadership, he would like to see the caucus “be more public” on the issues it tackles.

“As we have a House that is razor-thin majority on the Democratic side and it swings to razor-thin majority of the Republican side,” he explained, “I think that we need these veterans to come together and start solving some of these big problems.”

Gonzales feels that he could serve as a strong leader of the caucus because of the unique positions he has held within the military and within Congress.

While a majority of those in the caucus served as officers within the military, Gonzales attained the highest rank available to enlisted members, master chief petty officer. Enlisted members comprise over 80% of the armed forces and carry out orders, while officers assign those orders.

Gonzales said this role provided him with years of experience “taking care of the health and well-being” of military personnel. He has continued to work in support of veterans as a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding Veterans Affairs and military construction. This differs from other members on the committee who support military affairs by drafting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as members of the Armed Services Committee.

“We’re having a rising number of veterans that are now serving in Congress,” Gonzales told Newsweek, “and I think that is a very positive thing for the country as a whole, whether they’re Democrats, whether they’re Republicans.”

“I think the more of that the better for the country for not only domestic policy, but also national security,” he added.