Terri Sewell

Terrycina Andrea "Terri" Sewell (/ˈsjəl/; born January 1, 1965)[1][2] is an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, she has served since 2011 as the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 7th congressional district, which includes most of the Black Belt, as well as most of the predominantly black portions of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery.

Terri Sewell
Terri Sewell alt official portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded byArtur Davis
Vice Chair of the United States House Committee on Ways and Means
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byBrian Higgins (as Vice Ranking Member)
Succeeded bySuzan DelBene
Personal details
Born
Terrycina Andrea Sewell

(1965-01-01) January 1, 1965 (age 56)
Huntsville, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Theodore Dixie
(divorced)
EducationPrinceton University (AB)
St Hilda's College, Oxford (MA)
Harvard University (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

A native of Selma, Sewell is a graduate of Princeton University, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University. Before entering politics, she was a securities lawyer for Davis Polk & Wardwell and a public finance lawyer for Maynard, Cooper & Gale, where she was the first black woman to make partner. She is the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Alabama and, along with[3] Republican Martha Roby, was one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama in a regular election.[4] Sewell has been the only Democrat in Alabama's House delegation during her entire term in office, and apart from Doug Jones's tenure as a U.S. senator from 2018 to 2021, she has also been the state's only congressional Democrat.

Early life and educationEdit

Terri Sewell was born in Huntsville, Alabama,[5] to Andrew A. Sewell, a former high school basketball coach, and Nancy Gardner Sewell, a retired high school librarian and former Selma city council member. Her mother was the first black woman elected to Selma's city council.[6]

As a child, Sewell wanted to be a star on Broadway. Because her mother had hoped for her to become a lawyer, Sewell joined the debate team in high school.[6] She was the first black valedictorian of Selma High School.[6][7]

After graduating from high school, Sewell went to Princeton University. She was the first Selma High School graduate to attend an Ivy League school. She was recruited to attend Princeton by Julian L. McPhillips, who read about her in the local Selma newspaper.[7] At Princeton, she befriended Michelle Obama, who served as what Sewell called her "big sister" on campus.[6] Sewell completed a 158-page long senior thesis, "Black Women in Politics: Our Time Has Come".[8] During her time at Princeton, she interned with Richard Shelby and Howell Heflin.[7]

After graduating from Princeton in 1986, Sewell won a Marshall Scholarship to attend Oxford University. It was there that she befriended Susan Rice.[6] Her master's thesis, on the election of the first black members of the British parliament, was later published as a book, Black Tribunes: Race and Representation in British Politics (1993).[9] Sewell graduated from Oxford with a degree in political science in 1988.[5][7] She attended Harvard Law School for her J.D. degree, which she completed in 1992. There she overlapped with and was friends with Barack Obama, who became a lifelong friend and influenced Sewell's decision to enter politics.[6]

Early careerEdit

After graduation, Sewell served as a judicial law clerk in Birmingham, Alabama, to Chief Judge U. W. Clemon,[10] In New York, she worked at Davis Polk & Wardwell, alongside Kirsten Gillibrand, starting in 1994.[6][7]

Sewell returned to Alabama in 2004[7] due to her father's health problems.[6] She worked for another law firm, Maynard, Cooper & Gale PC, where she was the first black woman partner at the firm.[7] She was a public finance lawyer.[5]

In 2007, Sewell was at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, where she is a member, when then Senator Barack Obama spoke during the 2008 United States presidential election. Sewell credits Obama's speech (in which he asked "[t]he questions that I have today is, what’s called of us in this Joshua generation? What do we do in order to fulfill that legacy, to fulfill the obligations and the debt that we owe to those who allowed us to be here today?") as the catalyst for her serving in politics. Weeks after his speech, Gillibrand called Sewell, recruiting Sewell to run for office.[6]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

ElectionsEdit

2010

After four-term Democratic incumbent Artur Davis gave up the seat to run for governor, Sewell entered the Democratic primary—the real contest in this majority Democratic, majority-black district. She finished first in the four-way primary with 36.8% of the vote.[11] In the runoff, she defeated Jefferson County commissioner Sheila Smoot with 55% of the vote.[12][13]

In the general election, Sewell defeated Republican opponent Don Chamberlain with 72.4% of the vote. The 7th is so strongly Democratic that Sewell essentially clinched her seat by winning the primary.[14]

2012

Sewell was the only candidate to file for the Democratic nomination in 2012, and defeated Chamberlain in the general election.[15][16]

2014

Sewell was challenged in the Democratic primary by Tamara Harris Johnson, a former Birmingham City Attorney. No Republican candidate filed. Sewell defeated Johnson with 83.9% of the vote, effectively clinching a third term.

2016

Sewell was again unchallenged by a Republican in the general election. She easily won a fourth term against a write-in opponent.

2018

Sewell was once again unchallenged by a Republican in the general election. She easily won a fifth term against a write-in opponent.

2020

As in 2016 and 2018, Sewell was unchallenged by a Republican in the general election. She easily won a sixth term against a write-in opponent.

Tenure and political positionsEdit

 
Sewell and then former vice president Joe Biden in 2020
 
Sewell and U.S. Senator Doug Jones in January 2018

Sewell has voted with her party 91% of the time. She was a strong supporter of Obama's policies.[17][18] She has a lifetime rating of 8% from Heritage Action for America for voting for pro-conservative laws.[19] Despite this, for the 114th United States Congress, Sewell was ranked as the 94th most bipartisan member of the House (and the most bipartisan member of the House from Alabama) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy, which ranks members of Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring how often each member's bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member co-sponsors bills by members of the opposite party).[20] Sewell has established herself as a liberal with a focus on job creation, and arguably has the most left-wing voting record of any person to represent Alabama in Congress.[21] She is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.[22]

In January 2020, Sewell endorsed Joe Biden for president.[23]

On January 15, 2021, Sewell was appointed speaker pro tempore in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's absence.[24] In March 2021, she voted for the American Rescue Plan. The plan includes $475 million in funding for Sewell's district including to support vaccinations and to pay city employees for overtime and hazard pay for pandemic response work.[25]

AbortionEdit

Sewell is pro-choice.[26] As of 2018, she has as 100% rating for her voting record on pro-choice legislation by NARAL.[27] Sewell opposed the Human Life Protection Act, which went into effect in 2019. She described the bill on Twitter as "both blatantly unconstitutional and a brazen, extremist attack on women’s rights."[28]

Civil rightsEdit

 
Terri Sewell with John Lewis and Frederick D. Reese in 2016

Sewell has a 79% rating from the ACLU for her pro-civil rights voting record.[29] As of 2015, she is the only representative from Alabama to have a 100% rating from the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda for supporting Latino civil rights related legislation.[30] She has a 94% rating from the NAACP for her voting history regarding legislature supporting African Americans.[31]

Sewell has been endorsed by the Feminist Majority in past elections.[32] In 2011, she signed the Equal Rights Amendment. In 2013, Sewell voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.[33] In 2019, she voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act.[34]

Sewell has a score of 85 out of 100 for her voting on pro-LGBTQ laws from the Human Rights Campaign.[35] She co-sponsored the Student Non-Discrimination Act in 2013 which, if enacted, would have protected LGBT students from anti-gay bullying and discrimination in public schools.[33]

Sewell is a staunch advocate for voting rights. In 2019, she sponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act (which later became the John Lewis Voting Rights Act), which would update the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by providing increased oversight of voting changes, updating the pre-clearance formula to oversee contemporary discrimination patterns, and expanding the Attorney General's power to send federal observers to jurisdictions in areas at risk of voting discrimination.[36] In 2019, Sewell co-sponsored the For the People Act of 2019.[34]

In 2021, ahead of the once-a-decade reconfiguration of congressional boundaries, Sewell said that she would support "unpacking" her heavily Black 7th district. She argued that African-Americans make up a quarter of the population and therefore should hold a quarter of Alabama's 7 congressional districts. "I’m for broadening the representation of African Americans across Alabama, instead of concentrating it in my district," Sewell said in an interview.

Corporations and laborEdit

Sewell has a 92% lifetime rating for her pro-union voting history from the AFL-CIO and a 97% lifetime rating from the AFSCME.[37][38] She has a lifetime score of 61% from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for her pro-business votes.[39] Sewell is a proponent of a $15 minimum wage.[40]

DrugsEdit

Sewell’s stance has been generally anti-drug. Although she supports scientific research to evaluate the medical use of marijuana, she does not support legalization of cannabis in Alabama. Sewell has a D rating from NORML, and a score of 3 out of 6 from National Cannabis Industry Association, regarding her voting record for cannabis.[41][42]

EducationEdit

Sewell is a major supporter of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In 2019, she sponsored a bill, which passed, granting HBCUs $70 million for capital improvements and to support their educational work.[43]

Energy and oilEdit

Sewell opposes offshore drilling and opposes allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.[44]

EnvironmentEdit

In 2018, the Humane Society of the United States gave Sewell a rating of 45% for her pro-animal welfare voting history.[45] She has a 79% rating from the League of Conservation Voters for her pro-environment voting record.[46]

Families and childrenEdit

Sewell has worked with Ivanka Trump to develop policies related to paid parental leave.[40]

Foreign policyEdit

Sewell supported Obama's decisions on Afghanistan, citing "trust" of his policies.[17] She was part of a bipartisan delegation to accompany Nancy Pelosi on a two-day trip to Afghanistan in May 2012. While there, they spent time "with American service-members and meeting local officials to discuss security and women's issues."[47]

Free tradeEdit

Sewell supports tariffs on countries involved in currency manipulation. She signed the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act 2010.[48]

Government reformEdit

Sewell co-sponsored the STOCK Act in 2011 and the DISCLOSE Act in 2012. The same year, she also co-sponsored the SIMPLE Voting Act, to require a minimum of 15 days of nationwide early voting.[49]

Gun lawEdit

In 2019, Sewell voted for the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, requiring background checks on anyone seeking to buy a firearm.[34]

Health careEdit

Sewell is the only representative from Alabama to have a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood for voting history related to women's health.[50]

Sewell voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She supports Medicaid expansion and offering incentives for states to do so. She is currently sponsoring bills to lower prescription drug costs, expand funding for rural hospitals, and to support more health studies on African American health disparities.[40]

Homeland securityEdit

Sewell supported extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretapping.[51] She voted against funding to support Trump's wall.[46]

Kay IveyEdit

When Alabama governor Kay Ivey shared that she had performed in a college skit in blackface, Sewell called Ivey's actions "reprehensible" and "deeply offensive,” adding that "racism – in any of its forms – is never acceptable, not in the 1960s and not now."[52]

Social securityEdit

As of 2018, Sewell has a 96% lifetime score from the Alliance of Retired Americans for her pro-retirement voting record.[53]

Tax reformEdit

Sewell supported Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for low- and middle-income Americans, but declined to discuss her stance on taxation for high-income Americans.[17] In response to Obama's Framework for Business Tax Reform, Sewell said: "I applaud the President for outlining a bold framework for reforming the U.S. business tax system."[54]

Sewell wants to see the Military Widow’s Tax eliminated.[55]

First impeachment of Donald TrumpEdit

On December 18, 2019, Sewell voted for both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, the only representative from Alabama to do so.[56]

War and peaceEdit

Sewell opposed removing armed forces from Afghanistan in 2011.[57]

Welfare and povertyEdit

Sewell has voted against work requirements for welfare recipients.[58]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Sewell serves on the following House committees:[59]

Caucus membershipsEdit

Electoral historyEdit

Alabama's 7th congressional district Democratic primary, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell 31,531 36.8
Democratic Sheila Smoot 24,490 28.6
Democratic Earl Hilliard Jr. 22,981 26.8
Democratic Martha Bozeman 6,672 7.8
Total votes 65,674 100.0
Alabama's 7th congressional district Democratic primary runoff, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell 32,366 55.0
Democratic Shelia Smoot 26,481 45.0
Total votes 58,847 100.0
Alabama's 7th congressional district election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell 136,696 72.5
Republican Don Chamberlain 51,890 27.5
Total votes 188,586 100.0
Democratic hold
Alabama's 7th congressional district election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell (incumbent) 232,520 75.8
Republican Don Chamberlain 73,835 24.1
Write-in 203 0.1
Total votes 306,558 100.0
Democratic hold
Alabama's 7th congressional district Democratic primary, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell (incumbent) 74,953 83.9
Democratic Tamara Harris Johnson 14,374 16.1
Total votes 89,327 100.0
Alabama's 7th congressional district election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell (incumbent) 133,687 98.4
Write-in 2,212 1.6
Total votes 135,899 100.0
Democratic hold
Alabama's 7th congressional district election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell (incumbent) 229,330 98.4
Write-in 3,698 1.6
Total votes 233,028 100.0
Democratic hold
Alabama's 7th congressional district election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell (incumbent) 185,010 97.8
Write-in 4,153 2.2
Total votes 189,163 100.0
Democratic hold
Alabama's 7th congressional district, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terri Sewell (incumbent) 225,742 97.2
Write-in 6,589 2.8
Total votes 232,331 100.0
Democratic hold

Personal lifeEdit

In 1998, Sewell married Theodore Dixie of Huntsville, Alabama.[61] They are divorced.

Sewell is a lifetime member of Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama.[62]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Terrycina Andrea Sewell - $1,802,819 raised, '10 election cycle, Alabama (AL), Democratic Party, Congress". Campaignmoney.com. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  2. ^ "New Members 2010 - Alabama - The Hill - covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill". TheHill.com. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  3. ^ "Black Lawmakers Break New Ground, Suffer Losses | Madame Noire | Black Women's Lifestyle Guide | Black Hair | Black Love". Atlantapost.com. November 3, 2010. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  4. ^ Elizabeth B. Andrews was elected to fill an unexpired term in the House, while Senators Dixie Bibb Graves and Maryon Pittman Allen were appointed and never elected.
  5. ^ a b c "The Honorable Terri A. Sewell's Biography". The HistoryMakers. Archived from the original on January 15, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Thompson, Krissah (March 1, 2015). "Rep. Terri Sewell, a daughter of Selma, rues her city's lost promise". Washington Post.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Che, Erica. "Sewell '86 launches historic campaign for Congress". The Daily Princetonian. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  8. ^ Sewell, Terrycina Andrea (1986). Black Women in Politics: Our Time Has Come (Senior thesis). Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.
  9. ^ Gulden, Erin (May 2008). "Selma Bound". Alabama Super Lawyers. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  10. ^ "U. W. Clemon". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  11. ^ "AL - District 07 - D Primary Race - Jun 01, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  12. ^ "AL District 07 - D Runoff Race - Jul 13, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  13. ^ Sonmez, Felicia (July 13, 2010). "Robert Bentley clinches Republican nod for governor in Alabama". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  14. ^ "AL - District 07 Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  15. ^ Dean, Charles J. (January 13, 2012). "U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell uncontested in Democratic primary". The Birmingham News. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
  16. ^ "Alabama Secretary of State "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2013.
  17. ^ a b c "On The Issues". Who Runs Gov. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 28, 2013. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  18. ^ "Voting History". Open Congress. OpenCongress. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  19. ^ "Rep. Terri Sewell". Heritage Action For America. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  20. ^ The Lugar Center - McCourt School Bipartisan Index (PDF), The Lugar Center, March 7, 2016, retrieved April 30, 2017
  21. ^ "Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.)". Who Runs Gov. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 28, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  22. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  23. ^ "Rep. Terri Sewell Endorses Joe Biden for President". The Birmingham Times. January 23, 2020. Archived from the original on January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  24. ^ "Congressional Chronicle - Members of Congress, Hearings and More | C-SPAN.org". www.c-span.org. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  25. ^ Moseley, Brandon (March 1, 2021). "Sewell votes in favor of American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief bill". Alabama Political Reporter. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  26. ^ "Terri Sewell on Abortion". On the Issues. June 24, 2019. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  27. ^ "Terri Sewell". NARAL Pro-Choice America. Archived from the original on April 27, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  28. ^ "ACLU says it will sue Ala. again, others react to passage of abortion bill". WBRC. Archived from the original on May 15, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  29. ^ "Legislative Scorecard 2018". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  30. ^ "National Hispanic Leadership Agenda Congressional Scorecard 113th Congress" (PDF). National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  31. ^ "How Congress Voted 115th Congress" (PDF). NAACP. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  32. ^ "2018 Candidate Endorsements – Feminist Majority". The Feminist Majority. Archived from the original on January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  33. ^ a b "Terri Sewell on Civil Rights". On the Issues. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  34. ^ a b c Powell, Adam (December 30, 2019). "Sewell on front lines for explosive year in Washington - The Selma Times‑Journal". The Selma Times‑Journal. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  35. ^ "Congressional Scorecard - 115th Congress" (PDF). Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  36. ^ Pilkingtonin, Ed (February 25, 2019). "'We should be outraged': Alabama congresswoman tackles voter suppression". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  37. ^ "Rep. Terri Sewell". AFLCIO. Archived from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  38. ^ "115th Congress First Session Congressional Score Card" (PDF). AFSCME. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  39. ^ "2018". U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  40. ^ a b c Boykina, Teresa (June 6, 2019). "Sewell addresses issues at town hall - The Demopolis Times". The Demopolis Times. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  41. ^ "2016 Alabama Scorecard". NORML. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  42. ^ "Congressional Scorecard". The National Cannabis Industry Association. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  43. ^ "Terri Sewell successful in securing critical HBCU funding". Alabama Today. June 19, 2019. Archived from the original on January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  44. ^ "Terri Sewell on Energy & Oil". On the Issues. Archived from the original on January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  45. ^ "Humane Scorecard" (PDF). Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  46. ^ a b "Check out Representative Terri Sewell's Environmental Voting Record". League of Conservation Voters Scorecard. July 3, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  47. ^ Mali, Meghashyam (May 13, 2012). "Pelosi leads delegation on Afghanistan visit". The Hill's Global Affairs. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  48. ^ "Terri Sewell on Free Trade". On the Issues. Archived from the original on January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  49. ^ "Terri Sewell on Government Reform". On the Issues. June 23, 2019. Archived from the original on June 23, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  50. ^ "Congressional Scorecard". Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  51. ^ "Terri Sewell on Homeland Security". On the Issues. Archived from the original on August 20, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  52. ^ Moseley, Brandon (August 30, 2019). "Sewell reacts to Ivey's blackface revelation". Alabama Political Reporter. Archived from the original on January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  53. ^ "Alabama Congressional Voting Record" (PDF). Alliance for Retired Americans. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  54. ^ "Statement From Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell on President Obama's Framework for Business Tax Reform". House Press Release. Archived from the original on September 16, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  55. ^ Moseley, Brandon (September 20, 2019). "Sewell hopeful Congress will eliminate widow's tax in this year's NDAA". Alabama Political Reporter. Archived from the original on September 21, 2019. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  56. ^ Panetta, Grace. "WHIP COUNT: Here's which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump". Business Insider.
  57. ^ "Terri Sewell on War & Peace". OnTheIssues. Archived from the original on January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  58. ^ "Terri Sewell on Welfare & Poverty". On the Issues. Archived from the original on January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  59. ^ a b c d "Committees & Caucuses". U.S. Congress. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  60. ^ www.ciclt.net https://www.ciclt.net/sn/clt/gsba/poc_detail.aspx?P_ID=&ClientCode=gsba&LegComID=19983. Retrieved September 7, 2021. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  61. ^ "Theodore Dixie Jr., Terrycina Sewell". The New York Times. June 21, 1998.
  62. ^ Thompson, Krissah; Harris, Hamil R. (June 20, 2015). "What's the right reaction when a white stranger walks into a black church?". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 28, 2016.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Artur Davis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th congressional district

2011–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Austin Scott
United States representatives by seniority
151st
Succeeded by
Daniel Webster