U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) was named a 2015 Tech Legislator of the Year by the Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology Industry Council for “advancing policies that support innovation and technology.” He is the first freshman member of Congress to receive the award.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) also were named a Tech Legislator of the Year.
The ITI brands itself as the “global voice of the tech sector,” and counts among its members leading tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, and leading Texas tech companies Dell and Texas Instruments, and companies with a San Antonio presence, including Toyota, Microsoft, and Oracle.
The organization and lobby group recognizes four members of Congress each year, two from the U.S. Senate and two from the U.S. House, with both Republican and Democrats sharing the awards equally each year. The ITI’s member companies make the actual selections.
Hurd is the third South Texas legislator to receive the award. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was selected in 2006 and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in 2004. Here is the list of all winners since the award was created in 1999.
“It’s an honor to be able to take my real life experiences and use them in Congress to promote innovation in the tech sector and provide oversight for federal agencies. The cyber and tech industries are skyrocketing in my hometown of San Antonio, directly impacting job growth and the economy in my district. Championing this growing tech hub is a key priority for me and I’m grateful to be recognized by ITI for the impact my work has had in Congress,” Hurd stated in a Thursday press release.
“It’s a testament to Congressman Hurd’s leadership that in a time of entrenched polarization he helped foster a greater understanding of encryption’s role in security and forged a bipartisan solution to a very complicated cybersecurity issue that will serve to strengthen cyberspace,” ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield stated in the organization’s announcement Thursday. “We’re very pleased to recognize his leadership in removing barriers and promoting policies so our most innovative companies can develop new innovations that create jobs and supercharge our economy.”
The San Antonio tech scene was much smaller a decade ago when Cornyn and Smith were recognized. Hurd is a familiar figure on the local tech scene, regularly making appearance at USAA, Rackspace, UTSA, and Geekdom and often headlining events advocating for the tech sector here, the cybersecurity military missions and private sector cyber companies. Earlier this month he shared the stage at Pearl Stable with U.S. Rep. William “Mac” Thornberry (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee for a San Antonio Chamber of Commerce breakfast program focused on military spending and cybersecurity.
Local tech leaders praised Hurd’s work on behalf of the tech industry.
“From cloud computing to cybersecurity there is no bigger champion to the tech ecosystem than Rep. Will Hurd,” said Lorenzo Gomez, CEO of Geekdom San Antonio. “He takes the time to understand both the small startup and the large tech company in scale mode. I feel safe knowing that Will is representing our industry and fighting for good policy that will help advance technology at both a local and national level.”
David Heard, a founder and CEO of Tech Bloc San Antonio, agreed.
“Congressman Hurd is such a hardworking and intelligent leader as we work to build San Antonio’s technology industry. His experience in technology, and cyber security in particular, is such a unique asset for our community and he’s already had a big impact in his brief time in Congress. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our talented legislator and our growing tech scene here in Central Texas.”
“With only 16 months in Congress under his belt, Rep. Hurd has emerged as one of the technology industry’s greatest allies and a strong advocate for the industry in San Antonio. And it’s no wonder,” said Fred Humphries, corporate vice president of U.S. government affairs for Microsoft. “As a programmer himself, he brings a rare level of acumen and insight to our issues.”
Hurd has been given high profile committee assignments by the Republican leadership, an acknowledgment of his background working for the Central Intelligence Agency for a decade and his subsequent work as a private sector cybersecurity consultant, and the fact he represents the sprawling 23rd District, which reaches 800 miles from San Antonio to Del Rio to El Paso, one of the country’s most politically contested districts. Hurd faces a rematch of his 2014 election win in November against former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, now his Democratic challenger.
Hurd serves as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology, and as a member of the Committee on Homeland Security. His tech background has allowed him to play key roles in restricting cybersecurity exports and in the current encryption debate.
Featured image: U. S. Rep. Will Hurd receives the Tech Legislator of the Year Award from ITI President & CEO Dean Garfield ( right) and Visa’s Robert Thompson, III (left). Courtesy photo