Bruce Eugene Westerman (1967–)
Bruce Westerman is a Republican Party office holder who, after a stint in the Arkansas House of Representatives, moved up to the U.S. House after the 2014 election, succeeding Tom Cotton, who was elected to the U.S. Senate. As a member of the House, Westerman compiled a conservative record characterized by his strong support of the party’s programs, especially its support for President Donald Trump.
Bruce Eugene Westerman was born on November 18, 1967, in Hot Springs (Garland County) to Andy and Jeanette Westerman. He grew up in Hot Springs and was the valedictorian of Fountain Lake High School. He then went on to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks. In 1990, he received a Bachelor of Science in biological/agricultural engineering from UA, and in 2001, he received a master’s in forestry from Yale University.
Following graduation from UA, Westerman built a career as an engineer and forester, working as plant engineer for Riceland Foods from 1990 to 1992. From there, he went to the Mid-South Engineering Company, where he worked as an engineer/forester until his election to the Arkansas House in 2014. Active in the profession, he was president of the Arkansas chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering as well as the chair of the Arkansas Academy of Biological and Agricultural Engineers. In 2013, he was named Engineer of the Year by the Arkansas Society of Professional Engineers.
Westerman was a member of school board of the Fountain Lake School District from 2006 to 2010, ultimately serving as president. Prior to serving in the U.S. Congress, Westerman was elected to two terms in the Arkansas General Assembly representing District 22. First elected in 2010, he was quickly elected as minority leader, and when he was elected majority leader in 2013, following the Republican takeover of the Arkansas House of Representatives, he became the state’s first GOP House majority leader since Reconstruction.
In 2014, Westerman set his sights on winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arkansas’s Fourth Congressional. Westerman won the Republican primary with 54.5 percent of the vote. In the November general election, he garnered 53.7 percent of the votes, defeating Democrat James Lee Witt and keeping the seat in Republican hands. None of his subsequent opponents were able to keep him under sixty-five percent of the vote.
He has served on a number of House committees, most prominently the Committee on Natural Resources, where he became the ranking member. In addition, he has served on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as well the Committee on the Budget. Meanwhile, he has also served on the subcommittees on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials; Water Resources and Environment; Highways and Transit; Federal Lands, Environment; and Science, Space and Technology, as well as the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
From his arrival in the House in January 2015, Westerman left no doubt about his solidly conservative stance, as evidenced in his support for the Republicans’ Tax Bill of 2017. Too, he has been consistently given a better than ninety-percent grade by the American Conservative Union. He has introduced legislation aimed at increasing safety on rural roads, and he has been an advocate for increased forestation due to its many benefits to the land and the environment. He is also a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment and gun rights.
A hallmark of his time in Congress has been a loyalty to Trump. At no time was this more evident than following the 2020 election, as he joined with more than 125 of his fellow Republican House members to sign on to an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the U.S. Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election. While the Court refused to hear the case, Westerman continued to profess doubts about President Joe Biden’s victory.
Ironically, notwithstanding those doubts, Westerman found himself in a dangerous situation when the U.S. Capitol was overrun in the insurrection of January 6, 2021. According to a report in the New York Times in late April 2021, as the riot unfolded, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy was evacuated to his office, accompanied by Westerman. However, as the threat grew closer and more immediate, McCarthy’s security detail was insistent on McCarthy leaving the office, which he finally did, but Westerman was left behind. Taking down a ceremonial Civil War sword from a display in the office, Westerman retreated into a private bathroom, crouching on the toilet ready to defend himself from any intruders. Ultimately, order was restored and Westerman made his way back to the House floor.
Despite this experience, Westerman has opposed all efforts to empanel either a bipartisan commission or a select committee to study the events of January 6.
Westerman and his wife, Sharon, have four children and live in Hot Springs.
For additional information:
“Bruce Westerman.” Ballotpedia. https://ballotpedia.org/Bruce_Westerman (accessed December 10, 2021).
Leibovich, Mark. “Kevin McCarthy, Four Months after Jan. 6, Still on Defensive over Trump.” New York Times, April 25, 2021. Online at https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/25/us/politics/mccarthy-trump.html (accessed July 13, 2021).
“Rep. Bruce Westerman.” Govtrack.us. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/bruce_westerman/412610 (accessed December 10, 2021).
“Representative Bruce Westerman.” Congress.gov. https://www.congress.gov/member/bruce-westerman/W000821 (accessed December 10, 2021).
William H. Pruden III
Last Updated: 01/06/2022