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John Culberson

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John Culberson
John Culberson official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 7th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2001
Preceded by Bill Archer
Personal details
Born John Abney Culberson
(1956-08-24) August 24, 1956 (age 61)
Houston, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Belinda Culberson
Residence Houston, Texas
Alma mater Southern Methodist University, South Texas College of Law
Occupation Attorney, Politician

John Abney Culberson (born August 24, 1956) is a lawyer and the U.S. Representative for Texas's 7th congressional district, serving since 2001. He is a member of the Republican Party and the Tea Party caucus. The district takes in large portions of western Houston and surrounding Harris County.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Culberson was born in Houston, the son of Eleanor (née Abney) and James Vincent Culberson.[1] His great-grandmother was Swedish.[1] Culberson attended West University Elementary School, Lanier Middle School, and Lamar High School.[2][3] He graduated from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 1981 with a degree in history. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from South Texas College of Law in 1989. He is a distant relative of former Texas Governor Charles Allen Culberson.[citation needed]

Texas House of Representatives[edit]

During his time in law school, Culberson was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, serving his first term beginning in 1987. He was a member of the Republican Whip team, becoming Minority Whip in 1999 during his last term. Culberson began working for the law firm of Lorance and Thompson as a civil defense attorney after he graduated from South Texas.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]


Political campaigns[edit]


Culberson won the Republican nomination for the 7th District in 2000 after 15-term incumbent Bill Archer announced his retirement. He finished first in the Republican primary — traditionally the real contest in what has historically been a heavily Republican district – and defeated Peter Wareing in the runoff. He won easily in November, taking about 75% of the vote.


In 2008, Culberson faced his stiffest challenge to date in businessman Michael Skelly in the November 2008 election. Skelly, a former executive of Horizon Wind Energy, also served in the Peace Corps and earned an MBA from Harvard University. Skelly served on Mayor Bill White's Green Building Advisory Committee.[4] Culberson led with 56 percent of the vote with about two-thirds of precincts counted. Skelly had 43 percent of the vote. This was the closest a Democratic candidate had come to winning the district since it was created in 1967. Historically, Republicans at all levels garner well over 60 percent of the vote in this district.[citation needed]

As of June 30, 2008, Culberson had raised $983,204 with $550,228 cash on hand. As of the same date, Skelly had raised $1,465,519 with $1,050,314 cash on hand—more than any of Culberson's four previous challengers. In the previous four election cycles, Culberson had raised $1,092,972 (2000), $508,138 (2002), $628,783 (2004), and $718,882 (2006). In 2006, Jim Henley raised $122,145.[5]


Culberson ran unopposed.


Culberson was challenged by the Democratic nominee James Cargas, an energy lawyer for the City of Houston, Green party nominee Lance Findley, and Libertarian Drew Parks.


In the November 4, 2014 general election, Culberson again defeated Democrat James Cargas, who polled 4,092 votes (62.1 percent) in the March 4 primary election.[6] Culberson was unopposed in the Republican primary.


Culberson defeated James Lloyd and Maria Espinoza in the Republican primary election on March 1.[7] Culberson polled 44,202 votes (57.3 percent) to James Lloyd's 19,182 (24.9 percent) and the third candidate, Maria Espinoza's 13,772 (17.8 percent).[8]

He secured his eighth term in the general election held on November 8, when, with 143,542 votes (56.2 percent), he defeated the Democrat James Cargas (born 1966) of Houston, who garnered 111,991 ballots (43.8 percent).[9]


Because Hillary Rodham Clinton carried Culberson's 7th district in the 2016 presidential election, Democrats regard the congressman as vulnerable in 2018.[10] Six Democrats, two independents, and a Republican are reported to be in the running.[11] James Cargas, an energy attorney for the City of Houston and a life-long democrat garnered the highest vote percentage (44%) of any Democrat in Texas 7 since 1964, and is running again in 2018.[11] Debra Kerner, an elected board member of the Harris County Department of Education, is another of the Democrats eyeing for the seat. Another Democrat who has filed papers to challenge Culberson is Alex Triantaphyllis, the Director of Immigration and Economic Opportunity [12] at BakerRipley, a non-profit association specializing in community development. Triantaphyllis said that citizens in the district are "concerned about the direction that the president might take us, and I think they will become increasingly concerned that Congressman Culberson has stood with Trump." Democrat Jason Westin, a research physician at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who is strongly anti-Trump, is also in the race.[13] Culberson also faces an intra-party challenge from Houston businessman David Balat. Maria Espinoza, a conservative activist and high profile backer of President Trump, is a potential Republican primary candidate as well.[13]


Culberson is active online with Twitter[14] and Qik.[15] He has used these online information dispersion services from House Committee meetings and from the Oval Office. On August 1, 2008, to protest the House going into summer recess without discussing a pending energy bill, Culberson and other House Republicans stayed to make speeches about the energy bill in question. The Democratic leadership in the House, which controls services in the chamber, responded by cutting the microphones and cameras. Culberson used the Twitter and Qik services to provide a live account of the proceedings. Culberson later compared this episode to the Iranian government's brutal crackdown against Twitter-coordinated protesters in June 2009.[16]

Controversy over soldiers' funerals and 9/11 reference[edit]

In August 2011, AlterNet reported that Culberson, along with Ted Poe and Michael McCaul, was attempting to remove the right of deceased soldiers families to choose which prayers, if any, were to be read at a soldier's funeral.[17][18] The three politicians were said to be attempting to impose Christian ceremonies on the military funerals of everybody who has served in the military, regardless of whether or not the deceased was Christian and with or without the consent of the family of the deceased. The three politicians stated their demands were a response to Veterans Affairs (VA) banning Christian prayers at military funerals, however, VA state this claim is "blatantly false" as VA respects a families "rights to pray however they choose at our national cemeteries".[17][18]

Culberson also courted controversy in 2013, when he said "like 9/11, 'let's roll!'" to describe a vote to make a delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a condition for funding the government.[19]

Political positions[edit]

Culberson describes himself as a "Jeffersonian Republican... committed to Thomas Jefferson’s vision of limited government, individual liberty, and states’ rights."[20]

He has voted with his party in 98% of votes so far in the current session of Congress and voted in line with President Trump's position in 100% of the votes.[21][22]


Culberson opposes abortion.[23] He has voted to defund Planned Parenthood. In explaining his vote to defund Planned Parenthood, he claimed that undercover videos had shown Planned Parenthood to be selling "baby parts".[24] The videos in question were altered, and of the multiple investigations into this controversy, none found Planned Parenthood clinics to have sold tissue for profit.[25]


Three years after Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) had been dissolved, Culberson introduced legislation calling for ACORN to be defunded.[26]

Birther conspiracy[edit]

During the controversy over Barack Obama's citizenship when many conspiracy theories were circulated that falsely asserted that he was not a natural-born citizen of the United States, Culberson co-sponsored legislation which would require all future presidential candidates to provide proof of their citizenship.[20]

Defunding the Department of Justice[edit]

On January 5, 2016, Representative John Culberson, as the chairman of the house appropriations subcommittee which has jurisdiction over the Justice Department, wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch threatening to withhold the Department’s funding for fiscal 2016 and 2017 in opposition to President Obama’s executive order to regulate gun purchases. He warned, "The House Appropriations Committee will not provide resources to your department for the development of unlawful limitations on the unambiguous Second Amendment rights of Americans." Furthermore, Culbertson wrote that the committee’s expectation that the Justice Department will "allocate its resources to the enforcement of existing law" and that he looks "forward to reviewing a fiscal year spending plan and fiscal year budget request that enforces federal law and does not create new law."[27]

Donald Trump[edit]

Culberson endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. He did not respond to questions or revoke his endorsement after it was revealed on tape that Trump had bragged about sexually assaulting women.[28][29]

In February 2017, he voted against a resolution that would have directed the House to request 10 years of Trump's tax returns, which would then have been reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session.[30]


Culberson rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.[31][32] He has alleged that scientists have falsified climate change data.[31][33][34] He has said that "the liberal obsession with climate change... is driven by their desire to raise more money for the government".[32] He opposes federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.[23] He opposes cap-and-trade programs.[31]

Culberson has a lifetime score of 4% by the League of Conservation Voters.[35] Culberson has been described as a "climate change denier" by Vice Media[36] and by Organizing for America[37] and as a "climate science denier" by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.[38][39]


Culberson has repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[23] In 2013, he expressed his support for a government shutdown in an attempt to repeal Obamacare, saying he will vote to do everything he can "to delay, defund, or stop Obamacare."[40] On May 4, 2017, Culberson voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and pass the American Health Care Act.[41][42]

LGBT rights[edit]

He opposes same-sex marriage.[23]

Muslim ban[edit]

Culberson supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to suspend the refugee resettlement program and curtail immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. He stated that “This is a necessary pause in the refugee program until our intelligence agencies can develop adequate background checks to ensure that the people coming into the country are coming in for the right reasons.”[43]


Culberson supported legislation that would restrict the manner in which the National Science Foundation would distribute funds. The legislation would have forced the NSF to direct 70% of its funding to what proponents of the bill labeled the "pure sciences", which excluded geoscience and the social and behavioral sciences.[44]

In 2008, he expressed about foreign-born students coming to the United States to steal technology, "A concern that I continue to see is that a lot of those scientists from communist China, my impression is, and correct me if I am wrong, come here and learn as much as they can, and then leave. And I’m not really all that much into helping the communists figure out how to better target their intercontinental ballistic missiles at the United States. They basically steal our technology for military applications. And they are red China, let’s not forget."[45]


  1. ^ a b "culberson". 
  2. ^ ""Biography"". Archived from the original on March 29, 2006. Retrieved 2008-05-19. , U.S. Congressman John Culberson, 7th District of Texas
  3. ^ "Distinguished HISD Alumni Archived 2012-05-15 at the Wayback Machine.," Houston Independent School District
  4. ^ Skelly for Congress
  5. ^ Race: Texas District 07 Open Secrets, total raised and spent by year
  6. ^ "Democratic primary election returns". Archived from the original on March 7, 2014. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Republican Party Cumulative Report" (PDF). March 1, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Republican primary returns". March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Election Results". Texas Secretary of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2016. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Diaz. "In the age of Trump, Democrats zero in on a longtime GOP House seat". 
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b Kevin Diaz (May 3, 2017). "Houston U.S. Rep. John Culberson attracts a crowd of early challengers". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved May 3, 2017. 
  14. ^ Stranahan, Lee (February 19, 2009). "GOP Twitter Pioneer Culberson: An Interview In 140 Characters Or Less" (article). Huffington Post. Retrieved April 17, 2009. 
  15. ^ Reilley, Ryan (February 25, 2009). "Average Day: John Culberson (R-TX)". Washington City Paper. Retrieved April 17, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Has Pete Hoekstra Been Beaten Up by Nancy Pelosi’s Militia? " The Washington Independent". Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  17. ^ a b Griffith, Justin (August 5, 2011). "TX Congressmen to force Christian prayer over my dead body.". Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b DiBrance, Alex (August 23, 2011). "Texas Legislators and Christian Groups Fight to Insert God Into Vets' Funerals – Against Families' Wishes". AlterNet. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  19. ^ MacGillis, Alec (30 September 2013). "Meet the House Republican Who Compared Himself to the Flight 93 Heroes". The New Republic. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "Meet the House Republican Who Compared Himself to the Flight 93 Heroes". New Republic. 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  21. ^ Willis, Derek. "Represent". ProPublica. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  22. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron (2017-01-30). "Tracking John Abney Culberson In The Age Of Trump". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  23. ^ a b c d "The Voter's Self Defense System". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  24. ^ "Defunding Planned Parenthood". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Carter, Zach (2013-06-04). "House GOP Stomps Again On ACORN's Grave". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  27. ^ "House Appropriator Threatens to Block Justice Funding Over Gun Control, " Government Executive, 1/5/16
  28. ^ TEGNA. "Texas Republicans decide whether to stick with Trump". KHOU. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  29. ^ Tribune, Patrick Svitek, The Texas. "UPDATE: Top Texas Republicans condemn Trump's lewd comments". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  30. ^ "These are all the Republicans who don’t want you to see Donald Trump’s tax returns". indy100. 2017-02-28. Retrieved 2017-03-01. 
  31. ^ a b c Hiltzik, Michael. "Inside GOP science policy, Part 3: climate change". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  32. ^ a b "The money chase, 2016: New head of key House science spending panel likes limited government, unlimited exploration". Science | AAAS. 2015-01-28. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  33. ^ "Rep. Culberson Challenges Scientific Integrity of Climate Data". U.S. Congressman John Culberson. 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  34. ^ Culberson, John. "John Culberson - Hold Your Breath Texas". Townhall. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  35. ^ "Check out Representative John Culberson's Environmental Voting Record". League of Conservation Voters Scorecard. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  36. ^ "A Guide To The Climate Change Deniers In Congress". Motherboard. Vice Media. April 25, 2017. Texas' Climate Change Deniers. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  37. ^ "John Culberson is a Climate Change Denier". Organizing for America. Retrieved September 5, 2017. 
  38. ^ "RELEASE: CAP Action Releases 2017 Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus". Center for American Progress Action Fund. April 28, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017. 
  39. ^ Moser, Claire; Koronowski, Ryan (April 28, 2017). "The Climate Denier Caucus in Trump’s Washington". ThinkProgress. Retrieved September 5, 2017. 
  40. ^ Congressman John Culberson on shutdown - CNN Video, retrieved 2017-02-26 
  41. ^ "How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-04. 
  42. ^ Staff, C. N. N. "How every member voted on health care bill". CNN. Retrieved 2017-05-04. 
  43. ^ Blake, Aaron. "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump’s travel ban; here’s where the rest stand". Denver Post. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  44. ^ "Key House Republican says 70% of NSF’s research dollars should go to "core" science—not geo or social research". Science | AAAS. 2015-05-14. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  45. ^ "Do most Chinese students come here to steal secrets?". SciGuy. 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2017-02-26. 

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Milton E. Fox
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 125 (Houston)

Succeeded by
Sylvia Romo
Preceded by
Randy Pennington
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 130 (Houston)

Succeeded by
Bill Callegari
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Archer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 7th congressional district

Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Lacy Clay
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Susan Davis