The Fine Print
As a CIA undercover officer, Will Hurd made it his business to go unnoticed. But as a newly-elected member of Congress, this spy has thoroughly blown his former cover.
On his first trip to Washington since being elected, the Texas Republican – the first black Republican elected from that state since Reconstruction – told “The Fine Print” how his years working in the CIA inspired him to come out of the shadows and into the political spotlight.
“One of the other things I had to do was brief members of Congress, and when I was in the agency I was shocked by the caliber of some of our elected officials and decided to do something about it,” Hurd said. “My mamma said, ‘You're either part of the problem or part of the solution,’ and so I decided to run.”
What shocked Hurd most, he said, was that many members didn’t even know the basic difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims while the U.S. was engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“That's okay for my brother not to know that, because he sells cable for Grande Communications, but for someone who's making decisions on spending our billions of dollars of hard earned taxpayer dollars, that's unacceptable,” Hurd said. “For people that are sending our boys and girls to some place like Iraq or Afghanistan, that's unacceptable.”
Hurd hopes to put his background in intelligence and national security to good use on Capitol Hill, noting that “of the 435 members up here, nobody has my background in intelligence, national security or foreign policy.”
He warned about the need to snuff out ISIS now before they can pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland.
“They pose a real threat and we need to do everything we possibly can to eliminate them,” he said. “I think bombing them in Syria and Iraq is a good thing. I think we need to work more with our local partners, because ISIS is a threat to the Saudis, ISIS is a threat to the Jordanians, ISIS is a threat to the Turks, ISIS is a threat to the Emirates.”
Fresh off the campaign trail, Hurd said he and the other newly-elected Congressional freshmen bring with them a mandate for action.
“We all need to govern,” Hurd said. “There's about 40 folks like me that are coming in from this past cycle and what we heard in my district and across the country is people are ready for us to get things done. I think that is the momentum that we saw from these campaigns and that I hope we bring to this body.”
And with that, Hurd said, is an expectation that Congress can turn the page on conflicts of Congresses past, such as last year’s government shutdown.
“I think it's a new day,” Hurd said. “I don't think we're going to go down that road. I think passing a budget is important. I think we're going to have the cooperation from both sides of the House to make sure that gets done.”
But for all the optimism Hurd has for the new session of Congress, his expectations are far more moderate when it comes to the physical office space he’ll receive as a low-seniority member.
“My expectations are muted to probably say the best,” he said. “We just need a place to sit and do work. And we'll take whatever comes our way.”
For more of the interview with Hurd, and to hear about his first elected office as the student body president of Texas A&M, check out this episode of “The Fine Print.”
ABC News’ John Parkinson, Ali Dukakis, Gary Westphalen, Wayne Boyd, and Gale Marcus contributed to this episode.