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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 #4 District
In office
January 2, 1990 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Anthony Hall
Succeeded by John Peavy

Born January 12, 1950 (1950-01-12) (age 60)
Queens, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dr. Elwyn C. Lee
Residence Houston, Texas
Alma mater Yale University
University of Virginia Law School
Profession attorney
Religion Seventh Day Adventist

Sheila Jackson-Lee (born January 12, 1950) is an American politician. She has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1995. She represents Texas's 18th congressional district.


Early life

Jackson-Lee 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 Law School in 1975. Jackson-Lee moved to Houston after her husband, Dr. Elwyn C. 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 ("UHS") and the University of Houston ("UH"), respectively. Jackson-Lee is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Political career

Jackson-Lee made three unsuccessful attempts at local judgeships before becoming a municipal judge from 1987 to 1990. Jackson-Lee, along with Sylvia Garcia, were 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. While on the city council, Jackson-Lee helped push through a gun safety ordinance that punished parents who did not 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.

In 1994, Jackson-Lee, then 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. The victory effectively assured her the seat itself, as the district is overwhelmingly Democratic.

As a federal legislator, Jackson-Lee is an outspoken advocate for her liberal views, which range from supporting affirmative action to immigrant and women's rights.

Jackson-Lee's role model is the black legislator Barbara Jordan, who represented the same congressional district from 1973 to 1979. Like Jordan before her, Jackson-Lee uses her seat on the Judiciary Committee to focus attention on civil rights, abortion rights and other liberal causes.

Minority issues are at the forefront of Jackson-Lee's political concerns. 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.

Jackson-Lee on occasion has partnered with Republicans in Congress, for instance backing President George W. Bush's energy plan, which was strongly criticized by environmentalists. In 2000, she favored permanently normalizing trade status for China, arguing that it would aid both human rights and Houston's economy.

She was one of the 31 who voted in the House not to count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 Presidential election.[1]

Prior to the 110th Congress, Jackson-Lee served on the House Science Committee and on the Subcommittee that oversees space policy and NASA.

Jackson-Lee is one of the cosponsors of the 2007 Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act.

In 2008, she endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.


Committee assignments


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.[2][3]


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 the Sudanese embassy in Washington. They were protesting the role of Sudan's government in ethnic cleansing in Darfur.[4]


Alison Cook, Alison Cook looks back at 1997: The Year That Bit, Houston Press, May 2, 2007.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Craig Washington
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 18th congressional district

1995 – present


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