Sheila Jackson Lee
Sheila Jackson Lee
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Texas's 18th district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||Craig Washington|
|Member of the Houston City Council|
from the at-large district
January 2, 1990 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||Anthony Hall|
|Succeeded by||John Peavy|
January 12, 1950
Queens, New York City, U.S.
|Education||Yale University (BA)|
University of Virginia (JD)
Sheila Jackson Lee (born January 12, 1950) is an American lawyer and politician who is the U.S. Representative for Texas's 18th congressional district, having served since 1995. The district includes most of central Houston. She is a member of the Democratic Party.
Early life and education
|Congresswoman Jackson Lee "Kneeling in Defense of 1st Amendment", speech in the House of Representatives, September 25, 2017|
Jackson Lee was born Sheila Jackson in Queens, New York. Her parents were immigrants from Jamaica. She graduated from Jamaica High School in Queens. She earned a BA in political science from Yale University in 1972 and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1975. She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
Early political career
Jackson Lee made three unsuccessful attempts at local judgeships before becoming a municipal judge from 1987 to 1990. Along with Sylvia Garcia, Jackson Lee was appointed by then Mayor of Houston Kathy Whitmire. In 1989, Jackson Lee won the at-large position for a seat on the Houston City Council, serving until 1994. On the city council, she helped pass a safety ordinance that required parents to keep their guns away from children. She also worked for expanded summer hours at city parks and recreation centers as a way to combat gang violence.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1994, Jackson Lee challenged four-term incumbent U.S. Representative Craig Washington in the Democratic primary. Washington had come under fire for opposing several projects that would have benefited the Houston area. Jackson Lee defeated Washington, 63% to 37%. The victory was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district. In the general election, she defeated Republican nominee Jerry Burley, 73%–24%.
During this period, Jackson Lee was never challenged in the Democratic primary. She was reelected with at least 76% of the vote in every election.
For the first time in her congressional career, Jackson Lee was challenged in the Democratic primary; her opponents were Houston City Councilmember Jarvis Johnson and Sean Roberts. She defeated them, 67%–28%-5%.
It was reported that in October 2010 Jackson Lee was "asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether tea party groups are intimidating black and Hispanic voters in her district." She requested that Attorney General Eric Holder send poll monitors to make sure that no local group was stopping people from voting.
She won the general election with 70% of the vote, the lowest proportion of her career.
In 2012, Jackson Lee was unopposed in the Democratic primary and won the general election with 75% of the vote.
Jackson Lee defeated Republican nominee Sean Seibert, 71.78% to 24.76%. She received 76,097 votes to Seibert's 26,049. Green Party candidate Remington Alessi and independent Vince Duncan received the remainder.
Four candidates competed in the March 1 Republican primary election. Lori Bartley, with 5,679 votes (33.7%), led the field and faced a runoff on April 24 with the second-placed contender, Reggie Gonzales, who drew 5,578 votes (33.1%). Two other contenders, Sharon Joy Fisher with 4,405 votes (26.1%) and Ave Reynero Pate (7.13%), took the remainder of the vote. Bartley defeated Gonzales, 58% to 42%.
In the Democratic primary, Jackson Lee defeated Richard Johnson, 85.3% to 14.7%. In the general election, she defeated Republican nominee Ave Reynero Pate, 75.25% to 20.81%. Libertarian Luke Spencer and independent Vince Duncan received the remainder of the vote.
In the Democratic primary, Jackson Lee defeated seven other candidates with 77% of the vote. In the general election, she defeated Pate again, 73.3% to 23.5%. Libertarian Luke Spencer and independent Vince Duncan received the remainder of the vote.
Before the 110th Congress, Jackson Lee served on the House Science Committee and on the Subcommittee that oversees space policy and NASA. She is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and a CBC whip. She is known to be gaffe-prone and has a reputation for treating staffers poorly.
Jackson Lee traveled to the 2001 World Conference against Racism in South Africa, and has backed sanctions against Sudan. On April 28, 2006, along with four other members of Congress and six other activists, she was arrested for disorderly conduct in front of Sudan's embassy in Washington. They were protesting the role of Sudan's government in ethnic cleansing in Darfur.
Jackson Lee has urged better relations between the U.S. and Venezuela, which she describes as a friendly nation. She said the U.S. should reconsider its ban on selling F-16 fighter jets and spare parts to Venezuela. The U.S. State Department bans such sales due to "lack of support" for counter-terrorist operations and Venezuela's relations with Iran and Cuba.
In July 2010, Jackson Lee said: "Today, we have two Vietnams, side by side, North and South, exchanging and working. We may not agree with all that North Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace. I would look for a better human rights record for North Vietnam, but they are living side by side." It was noted that Vietnam had not been split for four decades, and that Vietnam's government does not consider South Vietnam to have ever been a sovereign state.
Jackson Lee is active on immigration issues. She has proposed increasing border security and increasing opportunities for legalization among those living in the U.S. She has opposed a guest worker program, saying that the idea "connotate[s] 'invite, come,' and, at the same time, it misleads because you ask people to come for a temporary job of three to six years and they have to leave if they don't have another job and I would think that they would not."
Criticism of Tea Party
In an October 2016 MSNBC interview, Jackson Lee mistakenly denounced Wikipedia when she meant WikiLeaks. The story concerned the Hillary Clinton email controversy. Jackson said, "You know that I'm going to first of all denounce the use of this intrusion by Wikipedia through the Russian intrusion" and "This is what it's about. Espionage just like what was said over these last couple of days. We need to be concerned about the intrusion of Russia and Putin in these elections."
In January 2011, Jackson Lee said that repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would violate the Constitution, arguing that the act is constitutional under the Commerce Clause, and that repealing it would violate both the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments.
At a March 2011 Homeland Security Committee hearing on radical Muslims in the U.S., Jackson Lee said that Peter King's hearings were helping al-Qaeda and "going the same route as Arizona." She complained that the hearings were scaring Muslim Americans and called them "an outrage".
On September 27, 2013, Jackson Lee introduced the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act (H.R. 3202; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Department of Homeland Security to assess the effectiveness of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The bill would require an independent assessment of how well the TWIC program improves security and reduces risks at the facilities and vessels it is responsible for.
On January 4, 2021, Jackson Lee introduced the Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act (H.R. 127; 117th Congress), a bill that expanded requirements for firearm licensing to every firearm and banned any ammunition of .50 caliber BMG or larger.
Jackson Lee supports LGBT rights. In 2009, she voted for the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill that expanded the federal hate crime law to cover crimes biased by the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2010, she voted for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act.
Jackson Lee supports the Equality Act, a bill that would expand the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She voted for the bill in 2019. Jackson Lee criticized Republican representatives who opposed the legislation on religious grounds.
Presidential election objections
In 2001, Jackson Lee and other House members objected to counting Florida's electoral votes, which George W. Bush narrowly won after a contentious recount in the 2000 presidential election. Because no senator joined the objection, it was dismissed by Senate President Al Gore.
In 2005, Jackson Lee was one of the 31 House Democrats who voted not to count Ohio's electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election. Without Ohio's electoral votes, the election would have been decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, with each state having one vote in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In 2017, Jackson Lee objected to counting North Carolina's, South Carolina's and Wyoming's electoral votes in the 2016 presidential election. Because no senator joined her objections, they were dismissed.
In 2003, Jackson Lee complained that storm names were too white. "All racial groups should be represented", she said, and asked officials to "try to be inclusive of African-American names."
On July 9, 2015, Jackson Lee and others who were engaged in a debate over the Confederate battle flag produced an erroneous reproduction of the original flag. The original battle flag contained 13 stars representing each state of the Confederacy as of 1861. The flag that Jackson Lee presented to members of Congress contained 17 stars.
United Airlines issue
On December 24, 2017, United Airlines allegedly gave a passenger's first class seat away to Jackson Lee. United Airlines claimed that the 63-year-old passenger had canceled her flight, which the passenger denied, alleging that the airline threatened to kick her off the flight for her complaint and for trying to take a picture of Jackson Lee. Jackson Lee released the following statement:
Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice...This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.
Treatment of staffers
In 1998, The Houston Press reported that five of Jackson Lee's staffers had quit that spring: "According to Lee's former Capitol office executive assistant and events scheduler Rhiannon Burruss, the congresswoman's abrasive ways not only drove off staff members but irritated Continental Airlines staffers to the point where one suggested she fly on a competitor instead."
In 2011, Jackson Lee was reported to have one of the highest staff turnover rates in Congress and to be one of the worst bosses. The Huffington Post and Houston Chronicle reported that she had gone through 11 chiefs of staff in 11 years. The Huffington Post wrote, "Jackson Lee regularly appears on Washingtonian magazine's list of the 'Best and Worst of Congress' as the 'meanest' member of House of Representatives." That reputation as the worst boss on Capitol Hill continued; in 2012 Washingtonian again listed her as the meanest member of the House and a 2013 report concluded that "the veteran Texas Democrat had the highest turnover rate for all of Congress over the past decade." She again topped the 2017 edition of the biennial Washingtonian survey and 2018 turnover statistics.
Resignation from the CBCF
In January 2019, The New York Times reported that Jackson Lee planned to resign as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. The move came in the wake of a lawsuit filed by a former staffer earlier in January that claimed the staffer was fired in retaliation for her planned legal action related to an alleged rape by a supervisor in 2015. The resignation came the day after the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence announced it would not support making Jackson Lee the lead sponsor of a law to reauthorize the federal Violence Against Women Act. She also stepped down from her chairmanship of the House Judiciary subcommittee.
- Committee on the Judiciary
- Committee on Homeland Security
- Committee on the Budget
Jackson Lee is or has been a member of a number of caucuses, including:
- The 9-11 Commission Caucus
- The Building a Better America Caucus (BABAC)
- The Congressional Caucus on Global Road Safety
- The Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
- The Congressional Algeria Caucus
- The Congressional Pakistan Caucus
- The US-Afghan Caucus
- Veterinary Medicine Caucus
- Congressional Progressive Caucus.
- House Baltic Caucus
- Congressional Arts Caucus
- Afterschool Caucuses
- Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus
- United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus
- U.S.-Japan Caucus
- Medicare for All Caucus
Jackson Lee moved to Houston after her husband, Elwyn Lee, took a job at the University of Houston. Her husband is now Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Student Affairs of the University of Houston System and the University of Houston, respectively. They have two children.
Awards and recognition
- Hilal-i-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan) Award (the highest civil award of Pakistan) from the President of Pakistan in 2020, recognizing her services to Pakistan.
- Iton, Richard (2010). In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199733606.
- "Sheila Jackson Lee: Biography". House.gov. Archived from the original on September 25, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
- Magagnini, Stephen (January 1, 2008). "Pride and comfort; National black sorority 'gathers for the specific purpose of being selfless'". Beaumont Enterprise. Beaumont, Tex. p. B.1.
- FELDMAN, CLAUDIA (February 19, 1995). "SHEILA JACKSON LEE GOES TO WASHINGTON". Houston Chronicle. p. 6.
- ROBINSON, JAMES (April 23, 1992). "Council moves to keep guns away from kids". Houston Chronicle. p. 1.
- "FOR CONGRESS, DIST. 18/Recommending nomination of Sheila Jackson Lee". Houston Chronicle. February 13, 1994. p. 2.
- Tim Fleck (February 20, 1997). "What's Driving Miss Shelia?". Houston Press. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011.
- "TX District 18 – D Primary Race – Mar 08, 1994". Our Campaigns. n.d. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "TX District 18 Race – Nov 08, 1994". Our Campaigns. n.d. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "Candidate – Sheila Jackson-Lee". Our Campaigns. n.d. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "TX District 18 – D Primary Race – Mar 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. n.d. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "Sheila Jackson Lee wants DOJ to monitor tea partiers at polls". Politico. October 28, 2010.
- "TX – District 18 Race – Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. n.d. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "U.S. House District 18 Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Houston)". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- Texas Secretary of State, State of Texas, Austin, Texas, November 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
- 2016 World Almanac page 557.
- "Republican primary returns". Texas Secretary of State. March 1, 2016. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
- "Election Returns". Texas Secretary of State. May 24, 2016. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
- Texas Secretary of State, State of Texas, Austin, Texas, November 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
- 2018 World Almanac page 559.
- Texas Secretary of State, State of Texas, Austin, Texas, November 2018. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
- "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. n.d. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- Wright, James (September 23, 1995). "Who's Who in the Congressional Black Caucus". Afro – American Red Star. 104 (6). Washington, D.C. p. B1.
- Jacobs, Ben (March 13, 2014). "The Constitution Is 400 Years Old and More Pearls From Sheila Jackson Lee". Daily Beast.
- Perera, John-Henry (December 26, 2017). "Jackson Lee again named 'meanest' Congress member". Houston Chronicle.
- Tully-Mcmanus, Katherine (January 17, 2019). "Former staffer sues Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee for firing her after rape allegation". Roll Call.
- "Small firms to get help in exporting". Houston Chronicle. October 7, 2000. p. 2.
- LEVINE, SAMANTHA (April 30, 2006). "DELEGATION WATCH / Jackson Lee backs her vow on Darfur / Calls her arrest a statement on the war and genocide". Houston Chronicle. p. 10.
- Jim Doyle, Five members of Congress arrested over Sudan protest, San Francisco Chronicle, April 28, 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
- "Jackson Lee wants ban on fighter jets reconsidered". Archived from the original on February 25, 2007. Retrieved February 22, 2007.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link). Houston Chronicle. February 21, 2007
- "Jackson Lee tries to smooth Chavez ties / Her Venezuela trip, she says, was an attempt to protect jobs here Archived 2009-07-12 at the Wayback Machine." Houston Chronicle.
- "Sheila Jackson Lee Catches Flack for Citing 'Two Vietnams'". CBS News. July 16, 2010. Archived from the original on July 18, 2010.
- "Sheila Jackson Lee says there are two Vietnams: North and South". PolitiFact.
- Miller, Henry I. "Politicians Worthy Of Respect Are A Rare Commodity". Forbes. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
- "Helsinki Commission Urges Turkish President to Lift State of Emergency". csce.gov. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. October 17, 2017.
- Bill Swindell, "Texas Democrat gets praise for immigration efforts", Government Executive, November 27, 2006.
- Sheila Jackson Lee, "Illegal Immigration's Impact on the U.S. Economy", NPR, August 26, 2005.
- "Sheila Jackson Lee on the Tea Party and the Klan". The Atlantic.
- "Rep. Sheila Jackson confuses Wikipedia with Wikileaks". October 22, 2016.
- Phil Klein (January 18, 2011). "Sheila Jackson Lee Says Repealing ObamaCare Violates Constitution". American Spectator. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012.
- "Sheila Jackson Lee, D, Says Repealing Obamacare Is Unconstitutional". Fox News Channel. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
- Mark Hemingway (January 19, 2011). "Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas: Health care repeal violates the Fifth Amendment or something". San Francisco Examiner.
- Oliphant, James (March 11, 2011). "Muslim 'radicalization' hearing a success, say Rep. Peter King, Republicans". Los Angeles Times.
- "CBO – H.R. 3202". Congressional Budget Office. July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- "Bill introduced to assess TWIC card". WorkBoat.com. October 8, 2013. Archived from the original on August 5, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
- Jackson Lee, Sheila (January 4, 2021). "Text - H.R.127 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act". www.congress.gov. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
- "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 223".
- "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 317".
- "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 217".
- "House Debate on the Equality Act". C-SPAN. May 17, 2019.
- "Objections Aside, a Smiling Gore Certifies Bush". January 7, 2001.
- "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 7: On Agreeing to the Objection". U.S. House of Representatives. January 6, 2005. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Salvato, Albert (December 29, 2004). "Ohio Recount Gives a Smaller Margin to Bush". The New York Times.
- "2016 Presidential Election Results – The New York Times". Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- "11 times VP Biden was interrupted during Trump's electoral vote certification | CNN Politics". January 6, 2017.
- Brandon Keim (August 26, 2009). "What's in a Hurricane Name?". Wired.
- Higham, Scott; Rich, Steven; Crites, Alice (May 13, 2015). "10 members of Congress took trip secretly funded by foreign government". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- Bresnahan, John (May 13, 2015). "Azerbaijani oil company secretly funded 2013 lawmaker trip". Politico. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- Swanson, Ian (July 9, 2015). "House Dems display incorrect Confederate flag". TheHill. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- "Rep. Jackson Lee suspects she was accused in United incident because she's 'an African American woman'". NBC News. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Fleck, Tim (May 14, 1998). "Flying Miss Sheila". Houston Press. Archived from the original on January 6, 2000. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
- Dealey, Sam (February 11, 2002). "Sheila Jackson Lee, Limousine Liberal". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
- "Sheila Jackson Lee, Worst Boss in Congress? Goes Through 11 Chiefs Of Staff in 11 Years". HuffPost. June 20, 2011.
- Molly Harbarger (June 20, 2011). "Cuellar sees heavy turnover in Washington staff". San Antonio Express-News.
- Jonathan Strong (January 24, 2013). "Report: Sheila Jackson Lee is 'worst boss' on Capitol Hill". Houston Chronicle.
- "Best and Worst of Congress 2012". Washingtonian. August 29, 2012.
- Luke Rosiak (January 22, 2013). "Who are the best and worst bosses on Capitol Hill?". The Washington Times.
- John-Henry Perera (December 26, 2017). "Jackson Lee again named 'meanest' Congress member". Houston Chronicle.
- Nolan D. McCaskill (March 21, 2018). "The 'Worst Bosses' in Congress?". Politico.
- Chamberlain, Samuel (January 23, 2019). "Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to step down as Congressional Black Caucus Foundation chairwoman in wake of ex-staffer's lawsuit: report". Fox News Channel. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
- Fandos, Nicholas (January 23, 2019). "Sheila Jackson Lee Leaves 2 Posts After Aide Says She Was Fired for Reporting Sexual Assault". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
- "Members of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus". Veterinary Medicine Caucus. n.d. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
- "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. n.d. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- "Members". House Baltic Caucus. n.d. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. n.d. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- "Members". Afterschool Alliance. n.d. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
- "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. n.d. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
- "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. n.d. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
- "Members". U.S. – Japan Caucus. n.d. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
- Ibne Safi, Fehmida Riaz among 116 recipients of civil awards (list includes Sheila Jackson Lee's award) Dawn (newspaper), Published 14 August 2019, Retrieved 24 November 2020
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Sheila Jackson Lee
- Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee official U.S. House website
- Sheila Jackson Lee for U.S. Congress
- Sheila Jackson Lee at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress