Richard Keith "Dick" Armey served as the congressman from the 26th District of Texas from January 3, 1985, to January 3, 2003. A Republican, Armey was born in Cando, North Dakota, on July 7, 1940. The middle child in a family of seven, Armey was the first in his family to attend college. He reminisced that he knew he was college-bound when as a power company employee he had to fix a power line in minus 30 degree weather at 3 a.m. Armey received a B.A from Jamestown (North Dakota) College; an M.A. from the University of North Dakota; and a Ph.D.in economics from the University of Oklahoma.
As a member of academe, the future congressman taught at several colleges and universities ultimately heading the economics department at the University of North Texas. When Armey launched his first campaign in 1984, the only politician he knew was his opponent, Tom Vandergriff. He defeated the Democrat 51 percent to 49 percent.
During his early terms in office, he served on the Education and Labor Committee, the Government Operations Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee. In addition, he founded and chaired the House Trade Expansion caucus; chaired the House Grace Caucus' Privatization Task Force; founded the B-2 Stealth Caucus; and founded the "budget commandos," a group focused on amending appropriations bills to cut spending. In December 1992, Armey ascended to the leadership of the House Republican Conference—the third-ranking leadership position for the House GOP.
During his time as majority leader, Armey joined with colleague W. J. "Billy" Tauzin in a pursuit to end the tax code. While Armey emphasized the flat tax, Tauzin called for a national sales tax. Armey and Tauzin appeared in several venues across the country on the so-called "Scrap the Tax Code" tour. Leader Armey also worked for passage of lower cost automobile insurance, for school choice, for campaign finance reform, and for efforts to reduce big government. In addition, he led the GOP in challenging the Clinton health care plan. Following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, Armey chaired the Select Committee on Homeland Security. In 2001, Armey announced that he would not seek re-election in 2002.