Open main menu

Sheila Jackson Lee

  (Redirected from Sheila Jackson-Lee)

Sheila Jackson Lee (born January 12, 1950) is an American politician. She is currently the U.S. Representative for Texas's 18th congressional district, serving since 1995. The district includes most of central Houston. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

Sheila Jackson Lee
Sheila Jackson-Lee.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 18th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1995
Preceded byCraig Washington
Member of the Houston City Council
from the 4th at-large district
In office
January 2, 1990 – January 3, 1995
Preceded byAnthony Hall
Succeeded byJohn Peavy
Personal details
Sheila Jackson

(1950-01-12) January 12, 1950 (age 68)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Elwyn Lee
EducationYale University (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)
WebsiteHouse website


Early life and education

External video
  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 both immigrants from Jamaica.[1] She graduated from Jamaica High School in Queens. She earned a B.A. in political science from Yale University in 1972, followed by a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1975.[2] She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.[3]

Early political career

Jackson Lee made three unsuccessful attempts at local judgeships before becoming a municipal judge from 1987 to 1990.[4] Jackson Lee, along with Sylvia Garcia, was appointed by then Mayor of Houston Kathy Whitmire. In 1989 she won the at-large position for a seat on the Houston City Council, serving until 1994.[4] While on the city council, Jackson Lee helped pass a safety ordinance that required parents to keep their guns away from children.[5] She also worked for expanded summer hours at city parks and recreation centers as a way to combat gang violence.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives



In 1994, Jackson Lee challenged four-term incumbent U.S. Congressman Craig Washington in the Democratic primary.[4] Washington had come under fire for opposing several projects that would have benefited the Houston area.[7] Jackson Lee defeated Washington in a rout, taking 63% to Washington's 37%.[8] 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%.[9]


During this time period, Jackson Lee was never challenged in the Democratic primary. She won re-election during this time with at least 76% of the vote.[10]


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%.[11]

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 a local group wasn't stopping people from voting.[12]

She won the general election with 70 percent of the vote, the lowest winning percent of her career.[13]


In 2012, Jackson Lee was not challenged in the Democratic primary and won the general election with 75 percent of the ballots cast.[14]


In 2014, Jackson Lee defeated Republican Sean Seibert by 76,097 votes to 26,049.[15]


Four Republicans competed in the March 1 primary election for the right to challenge Jackson Lee in the November 8 general election. Lori Bartley, with 5,679 votes (33.7 percent), led the field and faced a runoff on April 24 with the second-placed contender, Reggie Gonzales, who drew 5,578 votes (33.1 percent). Two other contenders, the stronger of whom was Sharon Joy Fisher with 4,405 votes (26.1 percent), held the remainder of the ballots cast.[16] Bartley then won the nomination over Gonzalez, 58 to 42 percent.[17]

In the general election, Jackson Lee defeated Bartley by her customary 3-1 margin with 150,157 votes to Bartley's 48,306.[18]


Prior to the 110th Congress, Jackson Lee served on the House Science Committee and on the Subcommittee that oversees space policy and NASA.[citation needed] She is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus,[19][20] and a CBC whip.[7]

Foreign policy

In 2000, she favored permanently normalizing trade status for China, arguing that it would aid both human rights and Houston's economy.[21]

Jackson Lee traveled to the 2001 World Conference against Racism in South Africa, and has backed sanctions against Sudan.[22] On April 28, 2006, Jackson Lee, along with four other members of Congress and six other activists, 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.[23]

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 that country. 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.[24][25]

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."[26] It was noted that Vietnam had not been split for four decades, and that the current government of Vietnam does not consider South Vietnam to have ever been a sovereign state.[27][28]


Jackson Lee is active on immigration issues.[29] She has proposed increasing border security and increasing opportunities for legalization among those living in the United States. She has opposed a guest worker program, saying that the idea of guest: "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."[30]

Criticism of Tea Party

Speaking in July 2010 at the NAACP national convention, Jackson Lee compared the Tea Party to the KKK.[31]


In an October 2016 interview on MSNBC, Jackson mistakenly denounced Wikipedia in place of WikiLeaks. The story was concerned with the Hillary Clinton email controversy, with Jackson's exact quotation being "You know that I'm going to first of all denounce the utilization of this intrusion by Wikipedia through the Russian intrusion," "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."[32]

Health care

Jackson Lee said in January 2011 that repealing the health care law would be in violation of the Constitution. She argued that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutional under the Commerce Clause, and that repealing it would violate both the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments.[33][34][35]


At a Homeland Security Committee hearing on radical Muslims in the US, held in March 2011, 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."[36]


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.[37] 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.[38]

Space program

In 1997, while on a trip to the Mars Pathfinder operations center in California, Jackson Lee confused the planet Mars with Earth's own moon, asking whether the Pathfinder had succeeded in taking a picture of the flag planted on Mars by Neil Armstrong in 1969.[39][40]

Hurricane naming

Jackson Lee complained in 2003 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."[41]

Foreign travel

In May 2015, The Washington Post reported Jackson Lee took a trip to Azerbaijan paid for by the government of that country.[42][43]

Confederate flag issue

On Thursday, July 9, 2015, Jackson Lee and others who were engaged in a debate over the Confederate battle flag produced an erroneous reproduction of what they thought was 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.[44]

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 and alleged that the airline threatened to kick her off the flight for her complaint and for trying to take a picture of Jackson Lee. Subsequently, Jackson Lee released the following statement:[45]

"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."

Committee assignments

Committee assignments
115th Congress (2017–19)[46]

Caucus memberships

Jackson Lee is or has been a member of a number of caucuses, including:

Treatment of staffers

The Houston Press reported in 1998 that five of Lee's staffers 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."[55][56]

In 2011 she was reported to have one of the highest staff turnovers 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.[57][58] In 2011 she was named as one of the "worst bosses in Washington" by The Daily Caller.[59] The Huffington Post stated that "Jackson Lee regularly appears on Washingtonian magazine's list of the "Best and Worst of Congress" as the "meanest" member of House of Representatives."[57][60] That reputation as the worst boss on Capitol Hill continued; in 2012 Washingtonian again listed her as the meanest member of the House,[61] a report in 2013 concluded that "the veteran Texas Democrat had the highest turnover rate for all of Congress over the past decade."[62]

Personal life

Jackson Lee moved to Houston after her husband, Elwyn Lee, took a job at the University of Houston. Her husband now holds a dual position of Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Student Affairs of the University of Houston System and the University of Houston, respectively.[2] They have two children.[63]

See also


  1. ^ Iton, Richard (2010). In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199733606.
  2. ^ a b "Sheila Jackson Lee: Biography". Archived from the original on September 25, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c FELDMAN, CLAUDIA (February 19, 1995). "SHEILA JACKSON LEE GOES TO WASHINGTON". Houston Chronicle. p. 6.
  5. ^ ROBINSON, JAMES (April 23, 1992). "Council moves to keep guns away from kids". Houston Chronicle. p. 1.
  6. ^ "FOR CONGRESS, DIST. 18/Recommending nomination of Sheila Jackson Lee". Houston Chronicle. February 13, 1994. p. 2.
  7. ^ a b Tim Fleck (20 February 1997). "What's Driving Miss Shelia?". Houston Press. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011.
  8. ^ "TX District 18 - D Primary Race - Mar 08, 1994". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  9. ^ "TX District 18 Race - Nov 08, 1994". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  10. ^ "Candidate - Sheila Jackson-Lee". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  11. ^ "TX District 18 - D Primary Race - Mar 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  12. ^ "Sheila Jackson Lee wants DOJ to monitor tea partiers at polls". Politico. 28 October 2010.
  13. ^ "TX - District 18 Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  14. ^ "U.S. House District 18 Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Houston)". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  15. ^ 2016 World Almanac page 557.
  16. ^ "Republican primary returns". Texas Secretary of State. March 1, 2016. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  17. ^ "Election Returns". Texas Secretary of State. May 24, 2016. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  18. ^ 2018 World Almanac page 559.
  19. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  20. ^ Wright, James (September 23, 1995). "Who's Who in the Congressional Black Caucus". Afro - American Red Star. 104 (6). Washington, D.C. p. B1.
  21. ^ "Small firms to get help in exporting". Houston Chronicle. October 7, 2000. p. 2.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Jim Doyle, Five members of Congress arrested over Sudan protest, San Francisco Chronicle, April 28, 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2006.
  24. ^ "Jackson Lee wants ban on fighter jets reconsidered". Archived from the original on February 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-22.. Houston Chronicle. February 21, 2007
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ "Sheila Jackson Lee Catches Flack for Citing 'Two Vietnams'". CBS News. 16 July 2010. Archived from the original on July 18, 2010.
  27. ^ "Sheila Jackson Lee says there are two Vietnams: North and South". PolitiFact.
  28. ^ Miller, Henry I. "Politicians Worthy Of Respect Are A Rare Commodity". Forbes. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  29. ^ Bill Swindell, "Texas Democrat gets praise for immigration efforts", Government Executive, 27 November 2006.
  30. ^ Sheila Jackson Lee, "Illegal Immigration's Impact on the U.S. Economy", NPR, 26 August 2005.
  31. ^ "Sheila Jackson Lee on the Tea Party and the Klan". The Atlantic.
  32. ^ "Rep. Sheila Jackson confuses Wikipedia with Wikileaks".
  33. ^ Phil Klein (18 January 2011). "Sheila Jackson Lee Says Repealing ObamaCare Violates Constitution". American Spectator. Archived from the original on 19 August 2012.
  34. ^ "Sheila Jackson Lee, D, Says Repealing Obamacare Is Unconstitutional". Fox News Channel. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  35. ^ Mark Hemingway (January 19, 2011). "Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas: Health care repeal violates the Fifth Amendment or something". San Francisco Examiner.
  36. ^ Oliphant, James (11 March 2011). "Muslim 'radicalization' hearing a success, say Rep. Peter King, Republicans". LA Times.
  37. ^ "CBO - H.R. 3202". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  38. ^ "Bill introduced to assess TWIC card". 8 October 2013. Archived from the original on 5 August 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  39. ^ Ben Jacobs (March 13, 2014). "The Constitution Is 400 Years Old and More Pearls From Sheila Jackson Lee". The Daily Beast.
  40. ^ Alison Cook, "Alison Cook looks back at 1997: The Year That Bit", Houston Press, May 2, 2007.
  41. ^ Brandon Keim (August 26, 2009). "What's in a Hurricane Name?". Wired.
  42. ^ 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 2015-05-13.
  43. ^ Bresnahan, John (May 13, 2015). "Azerbaijani oil company secretly funded 2013 lawmaker trip". POLITICO. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ "Committee Information". United States House of Representatives.
  47. ^ "Members of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus". Veterinary Medicine Caucus. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  48. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  49. ^ "Members". House Baltic Caucus. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  50. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  51. ^ "Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  52. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  53. ^ "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  54. ^ "Members". U.S. - Japan Caucus. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  55. ^ Fleck, Tim (May 14, 1998). "Flying Miss Sheila". Houston Press. Archived from the original on January 6, 2000. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  56. ^ Dealey, Sam (February 11, 2002). "Sheila Jackson Lee, Limousine Liberal". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  57. ^ a b "Sheila Jackson Lee, Worst Boss In Congress? Goes Through 11 Chiefs Of Staff In 11 Years". The Huffington Post. June 20, 2011.
  58. ^ Molly Harbarger (June 20, 2011). "Cuellar sees heavy turnover in Washington staff". San Antonio Express-News.
  59. ^ Jonathan Strong (March 2, 2011). "Congressional bosses from Hell: Sheila Jackson Lee". The Daily Caller.
  60. ^ Jonathan Strong (January 24, 2013). "Report: Sheila Jackson Lee is 'worst boss' on Capitol Hill". Houston Chronicle.
  61. ^ "Best and Worst of Congress 2012". Washingtonian. August 29, 2012.
  62. ^ Luke Rosiak (January 22, 2013). "Who are the best and worst bosses on Capitol Hill?". The Washington Times.
  63. ^ [1]

External links