Sheila Jackson Lee

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U.S. Representative

Sheila Jackson Lee ()
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Leadership: No leadership position
Committees: House Committee on Foreign Affairs, House Committee on Homeland Security, House Committee on the Judiciary
(subcommittees and past assignments)
Next election: Nov. 6, 2012

Primary challenge:

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On the Web
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[[Category:Members of the U.S. House of Representatives|]]

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Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, has represented the Eighteenth Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1995.


Record and controversies

Congressional scorecards

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Organization 2007 Scorecard
Score - Agree ratio
2008 Scorecard
Score - Agree ratio
American Civil Liberties Union not avail. not avail.
American Conservative Union not avail. not avail.
AFSCME not avail. not avail.
Americans for Democratic Action not avail. not avail.
Club for Growth not avail. not avail.
Drum Major Institute not avail. not avail.
Family Research Council not avail. not avail.
Information Technology Industry Council not avail. not avail.
League of Conservation Voters not avail. not avail.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People not avail. not avail.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce not avail. not avail.

Iraq War

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

Support for gun control

Jackson Lee cosponsored H.R 1022 (Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization Act of 2007) on March 7, 2007.[1]

Main article: U.S. gun legislation

Reparations for Japanese Latin Americans

Jackson Lee cosponsored The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act in the 110th Congress which would establish a commission that would determine the facts and circumstances involving the relocation, internment and deportation of Japanese Latin Americans.[2]

Main article: Redress for Japanese Latin Americans/ U.S. legislation#Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act of 2007

Enron campaign contributions

In 1994, Jackson Lee (while serving her third term as a member of the Houston City Council) defeated incumbent Congressman Craig Washington in the Democratic primary for the 18th Congressional District of Texas. Washington had made powerful enemies, namely Houston's downtown power brokers (such as then-Enron Chief Kenneth Lay), by voting against congressional bills favoring NAFTA and NASA. Irked, Lay and other conservatives convinced then Councilwoman Jackson Lee to run against Washington, then put their sizeable deep pockets behind her campaign, despite her being a liberal Democrat. They reportably viewed her as more maleable and "agreeable." [1]

According to Brody Mullins in Congress Daily, "Enron and its employees pumped $24,000 into Jackson Lee's campaign, helping her raise nearly $600,000-three times as much as Washington raised for his previous reelection." (Quoted in PIRG report on Enron). [2]


Critics complain that Jackson Lee has a tendency to volunteer unsolicited on-camera commentary and press statements on a wide range of political issues, such as a 2003 request to use more African American-sounding names when naming hurricanes and tropical storms, feeling the current selections were too "lily white." [3] This has caused conservative critics to nickname her "Hurricane Sheila." Citing the hurricane incident, conservative pundit and former CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg included Jackson-Lee in his book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, ranking her #98.

Jackson Lee volunteered herself as an unsolicited advocate for the father of Elián González in the international custody controversy and reportedly spends hours seeking out prime seating locations in the House of Representatives chamber to increase her camera visibility for special events such as the State of the Union address. She was also one of the few members of Congress to come to the defense of Michael Jackson during an ongoing criminal investigation of the pop star [4]. She also attracted controversy in 2003 by meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and offering to sponsor a visit for the controversial leader to the United States.

According to the gossip columnist of a local free paper, The Houston Press, the congresswoman's reputation as a "floor hog" has also given rise to a humorous betting game among Capitol Hill staffers in other member's offices in which quarters are deposited into a jar each time she speaks. The office staff in possession of the jar when a whole day goes by without Jackson Lee speaking wins and gets to keep the contents [5].

Preferential treatment

According to the Houston Press and The Hill, Jackson Lee has also reportedly been involved in several altercations with airline flight personnel over her requests for a complimentary upgrade to first class based on her celebrity. [6]

As reported by The Hill, During a full flight on Continental Airlines Jackson Lee was denied a complimentary upgrade to first class. According to a witness interviewed by the Capitol Hill newpaper, "When she saw that she had to sit with other people, she started shouting that she was in Congress and worked hard. She was really loud. Everybody in the plane could hear." Later in the flight she is reported to have had a "friendly visit" with the displaced passengers. [7]

The Press further reports that Jackson Lee has a reputation on Capitol Hill as a "high-maintenance" employer and has exhibited one of the largest staff turnover rates for years [8]. Several former employees have cited her demeanor and incidents such as the travel arrangement altercations as a major reason why so many staffers leave her office. The Houston Chronicle reported that one staffer even quit after she threw a cell phone at him.[9]

Alleged use of the race and gender cards

Other critics have charged Jackson Lee with frequent political race baiting to obtain political goals. In a 2002 incident Jackson Lee became engaged in a shouting match with Republican Dana Rohrabacher, the Chairman of the NASA subcomittee, after Rohrabacher ruled her out of order for exceeding her allotted time for questions. Jackson Lee snapped back at Rohrabacher, "I'm the only member that you comment on. It may be that I'm the only African-American woman sitting here."[10][11] Rohrabacher responded, "Ms. Jackson Lee, that type of charge is beneath you. It is beneath your dignity." Jackson Lee also accused the Harris County (Houston) Republican Party of racism after an email it sent to members criticizing the local Democratic congressional delegation included a photograph of her but not the Democratic "white male" members from other Houston districts, despite the fact that the email was one of a series that did, in fact, include her white male Democrat colleagues.[12]



Jackson Lee was born January 12, 1950 in Queens, New York. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Yale University in 1972, followed by a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975. Jackson Lee made two unsuccessful attempts at local judgeships before being appointed a municipal judge (1987 to 1990). In 1989 she won the At-Large Position Four seat on the Houston City Council, serving until 1994.

In 1994, Jackson Lee (while serving her third term as a member of the Houston City Council) defeated incumbent Congressman Craig Washington in the Democratic primary for the 18th Congressional District of Texas with the fundraising help of Enron and Kenneth Lay. (See "Enron" below).

Congressional Career

According to her House biography, "She has distinguished herself as a staunch defender of the Constitution, civil rights and juvenile justice, protection of America's health needs, gun safety and responsibility, economic empowerment for low and middle income America."[13]

Global race and poverty issues are also at the forefront of Jackson Lee's political agenda. Within the past few years she has traveled to South Africa to decry racism and has backed sanctions against Sudan. She is the first vice-chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

EBONY magazine named her one of the "100 Most Fascinating Black Women of the Century," and "Congressional Quarterly," has listed her as one of the 50 most effective members in Congress.[14]

Though known as a liberal, Jackson Lee sometimes breaks with the Democratic Party line, particularly on trade issues. In 2000 she favored permanently normalizing trade status for China, arguing that it would aid both human rights and Houston's economy. (It was also a priority for Enron Corporation, with which she has financial ties). Hoping to boost the Houston area's oil industry, Jackson Lee sided with DeLay in backing President George W. Bush's energy plan, strongly criticized by environmentalists. The two have also cosponsored a bill strengthening child protective services.

2006 elections

In 2006, Republicans nominated Ahmad R. Hassan to face Jackson Lee in her November 2006 bid for reelection. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [15] Jackson Lee retained her seat.

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. For specific controversies, see this article's record and controversies section.

Top Contributors to during the 2008 Election Cycle
DonorAmount (US Dollars)
Harmony Public Schools$ 11,000
Border Health$ 10,000
Communications Workers of America$ 10,000
Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union$ 10,000
National Auto Dealers Assn$ 10,000
AT&T Inc$ 8,000
International Assn of Fire Fighters$ 7,000
National Assn of Realtors$ 7,000
Property Casualty Insurers Assn/America$ 6,000
Business-Cleaning Supply Co$ 5,200
Source: The Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Note: Contributions are not from the organizations themselves, but are rather from
the organization's PAC, employees or owners. Totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
Links to more campaign contribution information for Sheila Jackson Lee
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2008 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2008 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2008 election cycle Career totals

Committees and Affiliations


Committees in the 110th Congress (2007-2008)

Committee assignments are not yet available for the 110th Congress.

Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

  • House Committee on Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Economic Security Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity
    • Subcommittee on Intelligence Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment
    • Subcommittee Management Integration and Oversight
  • House Committee on the Judiciary
    • Subcommittee on Task Force on Antirust
    • Subcommittee on Crime Terrorism and Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Immigration Border Security and Claims - Ranking Minority Member
  • House Committee on Science
    • Subcommittee on Energy
    • Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Sheila Jackson Lee. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC office
  • 2160 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
    Ph: 202-225-3816 Fax: 202-225-3317
    Webform email
District offices
  • 6719 West Montgomery, Suite 204, Houston, TX 77091
    Ph: 713-691-4882 Fax: (none entered)
  • 420 West 19th Street, Houston, TX 77008
    Ph: 713-861-4070 Fax: (none entered)
  • 1919 Smith Street, Suite 1180, Houston, TX 77002
    Ph: 713-655-0050 Fax: (none entered)
  • 4412 Almeda Road, Houston, TX 77004
    Ph: 713-737-8350 Fax: (none entered)
On the Web
Campaign office
  • No campaign website entered.
  • No campaign webform email entered.
  • No campaign office information entered.

Articles and resources


  1. Thomas page on H.R. 1022
  3. Directors, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, accessed August 20, 2008.



Local blogs and discussion sites

Semantic data (Edit data)