McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr., a longtime congressman from the South Texas border, is retiring early.

Vela confirmed to Border Report on Thursday morning that he is stepping down this year, earlier than previously announced.

“Soon just not sure when,” Vela told Border Report.

The Texas Tribune reported Thursday that Vela will leave prior to the end of his current term to work for Akin Gump, a prominent law and lobbying firm.

The firm has locations throughout the world including Washington, D.C., where Vela has indicated he wants to continue to live. His wife, Rose Vela, last year was appointed by President Joe Biden to run the president’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Rose Vela is a retired Texas state district judge and Texas appellate justice.

U.S. Rep. Filemon is a five-term congressman from Brownsville, Texas. (Vela Photo)

Vela is a five-term congressman who was first elected to the House in 2013 to represent District 34, which includes the Gulf Coast city of Brownsville, Texas. He serves on the House Agriculture Committee and House Armed Services Committee, and is deputy head of the United States Delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Assembly.

His early retirement throws into question an already complicated upcoming election season on the South Texas border.

Redistricting by the Republican-led Texas Legislature redrew his 34th District to include the home of U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat from McAllen who represents Texas 15th Congressional District but is now running for the 34th District seat.

Gonzalez won the Democratic nomination March 1. His current seat has been targeted by the Republican National Committee, which is backing Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz, who narrowly lost to Gonzalez during the 2020 election and is largely expected to flip this seat red in this mostly Democratic border stronghold.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com