Coders in Congress triple, from one to three

The number of coders in Congress will triple come 2015 — from one to three.

IT World reviewed the backgrounds of all 535 current lawmakers and the dozens of incoming new members.


It found only one current member, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who had worked as a software engineer or developer.

But two incoming lawmakers — Texas Republican Will Hurd and California Democrat Ted Lieu — have computer science degrees, joining Scalise, who was a computer programming major at Louisiana State University.

The tech industry has long argued it is better suited than Congress to set its own security standards, in part because lawmakers lack the necessary technical know-how to do so.

By IT World’s count, the current Congress has more farmers, journalists, radio hosts, pilots and almond orchard owners than software engineers. Lawyers and businessmen make up the vast majority of lawmakers.

The incumbent coder, Scalise, was a software engineer and a tech company marketing executive before entering politics in 1996.  

Hurd, who edged out Pete GallegoPete Pena GallegoGOP candidate scores upset win in Texas state Senate runoff Koch group launches digital ads in tight Texas House race Iraq War vet wins Texas Dem runoff MORE (D-Texas), in the recent elections is actually jumping directly from the cybersecurity industry to Congress.

Hurd graduated from Texas A&M in 2000 with a degree in computer science before entering the CIA as an undercover operative.

During his campaign, Hurd mainly leaned on his CIA experience, but most recently he was a senior advisor at cybersecurity vendor FusionX. At FusionX, Hurd worked with large companies to help design cybersecurity programs.

Lieu, a California state senator, won the seat vacated by long-term Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who is retiring at the end of the year.

On Monday, Lieu was elected president of the 20-person Democratic freshman class in the House.

The incoming lawmaker has less professional software engineering experience than his two fellow coders, but did earn an undergraduate degree in computer science from Stanford University in 1991 before becoming a lawyer.

Lieu later served on active duty for four years with the Air Force as a military prosecutor.

Democrat Dave Cole, a White House senior developer for two years, was primed to become perhaps the most experienced developer to ever serve in Congress.

During his campaign for New Jersey’s 2nd district, Cole even published a promotional op-ed titled, “I’m a coder running for Congress.”

But Cole didn’t even make it past the primary in the race for the seat held by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.).