Kika de la Garza was an extraordinary legislator and a great friend to the futures industry. Born in 1927 in Mercedes, Texas, he was elected to Congress in 1964 and served as the Democratic representative for the 15th congressional district of Texas from 1965 to 1997.
From 1981 to 1994, he was the chairman of the House Agricultural Committee, leading the way in the reorganization of the Department of Agriculture. He also worked to improve trade with Mexico, lobbying to support the bill that enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement.
During his long tenure as chairman, Kika guided numerous bills through the House that strengthened and updated the Commodity Exchange Act, the statute that establishes the regulatory framework for U.S. futures markets. He fought to preserve the benefits that futures markets provide for farmers and ranchers and worked closely with industry to encourage sensible improvements to regulation but also worked to strengthen the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's enforcement powers and encourage better trading practices and customer protections.
Perhaps the greatest sign of his influence was his success in preserving the Agriculture Committee's authority over the futures industry at a time when financial futures were beginning their meteoric rise in popularity. He fended off several proposals to bring the futures industry under the authority of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which at that time oversaw the Securities and Exchange Commission, by arguing that the CFTC was better equipped than the SEC to understand the unique features of the futures markets and regulate them in a more cost-effective way.