Birthdate: May 3, 1923
Birth Place: Fate, TX, United States
Residence: Rockwall, TX
First Elected: 1980
District: District 4
Ralph Hall was born in Fate, Texas, and lives in Rockwall. He attended Texas Christian University and the University of Texas, before earning a law degree at Southern Methodist University in 1951.
Hall served in the Navy as an aircraft carrier pilot in World War II, then returned to practice law in Rockwall County. Hall served as a Rockwall County judge from 1950 to 1962. He was elected to the Texas Senate in 1963 and served until 1973.
Hall served as president and chief executive officer of Texas Aluminum Corp. and general counsel of Texas Extrusion Co. Inc. He was a counsel for the aircraft parts maker Howmet Corporation from 1970 to 1974.
He was elected to the U.S. House in 1980.
Hall has three children. His wife of 63 years, Mary Ellen, died in 2008.
The oldest member of the House, the normally soft-spoken Ralph Hall has stepped up his criticism of President Barack Obama's agenda, which may have helped him fend off a tea party challenger in Texas' 2012 Republican primary.
The silver-haired former Democrat who switched parties in 2004 was strongly opposed to the 2010 health care reform bill. A few weeks after the legislation passed, Hall questioned Obama's planned changes to the space program. He also consistently voted against the federal financial industry bailout and the 2009 economic stimulus package.
In 2011, Hall was appointed chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. In October of that year, when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed easing pollution restrictions that had angered several states, Hall said EPA's revision proved the agency's rules were not based on sound science.
"As we have seen in Texas and throughout the United States, pursing an EPA-knows-best approach to compliance will unquestionably result in increased unemployment, power plant shutdowns and more expensive, less reliable energy," he said.
Hall came to Congress just as Republican Ronald Reagan's presidency began. He was among Democratic conservatives who sided with Reagan on key budget issues, favoring efforts to reduce federal spending.
He was among the Texas delegation's most conservative Democrats and retained his seat with relative ease even though the district voted overwhelmingly Republican in the 1988 presidential race.
After the Texas Legislature redrew his district and made it more Republican, he switched to the Republican Party in 2004. In exchange, he got heavy White House backing in the three-way GOP primary that year, winning 78 percent of the vote.
Hall was a staunchly conservative Democrat, so his switch was not surprising. He is a longtime friend of former President George W. Bush and was a reliable vote for much of his agenda, even before the switch.
While still a Democrat, Hall voted for the resolution allowing the use of force in Iraq. He voted in March 2003 for a budget that included Bush's 10-year, $726 billion tax-cut plan.
Hall voted "present" in January 2003 rather than vote for Nancy Pelosi in her bid for minority leader.
He voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement and has been an original co-sponsor of bills to repeal the estate tax and the marriage tax penalty.
He introduced in 2001 the Social Security Preservation Act, which would prevent the federal government from using Social Security surpluses for anything other than the preservation of the fund.
Hall was selected in 2002 as a conferee on House-Senate energy legislation. He cosponsored a proposed constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds vote of Congress on any tax-increase bills. The measure did not pass the House.
The Red River Army Depot in Hall's district survived the 2005 base-closing initiative. But it was a mixed blessing for Hall, who bemoaned the loss of 357 jobs.
Source: Associated Press