Sheila Jackson-Lee

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Sheila Jackson-Lee (1950-) is a Democratic U.S. Representative for the 12th District of Texas, which is in the Houston, Texas area. Re-elected in 2010, she is considered to be one of the most progressive or leftist members of the House of Representatives. While she is not seen as a centrist, Congressional Quarterly named her as one 50 most effective Members of Congress, while the conservative-leaning U.S. News and World Report put her into the top 10 in influence. [1]

She faced a primary challenge in 2010 from three-term Houston councilman Jarvis Johnson. Johnson was a supporter of Barack Obama, while Jackson-Lee was strongly associated with Hillary Clinton, the basis of some of the disagreement. [2]

Her district, first represented by Barbara Jordan, is heavily African-American and Hispanic, and has consistently elected African-American representatives. Ebony listed her among the "100 Most Fascinating Black Women of the 20th Century." Rep. Jackson Lee recently received the 2006 Award for Policy at the 16th Annual Phillip Burton Immigration & Civil Rights Awards. In 2005, she was presented by the Drum Major Award for Public Service by the Revelation Urban Development Institute. Congresswoman Jackson Lee was also awarded the "Legislator of the Year" by the National Mental Health Association.

Foreign policy

She voted against the 2002 authorization for military operations in Iraq, and joined in a lawsuit to prevent the President from going to war there without explicit Congressional authorization. [3]

  • Congresswoman Jackson Lee has been actively engaged in addressing and resolving Darfur Conflict. Accordingly, she met with Sudanese refugees in Chad, for whom she secured additional funding, and African Union soldiers in Sudan. In 2006, she was arrested during a protest in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington.

Immigration

She authored several immigration bills, such as H.R. 750, the "Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2007".

Civil rights

enhance federal enforcement of hate crimes with H.R. 254, the David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention of 2007. Rep. Jackson Lee also played a significant role in the recent renewal and reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.

Technology and space

Houston calls itself the "energy capital" of the country; it is the operational center of the oil industry while Dallas is that industry's financial center. Her district also includes the NASA Johnson Space Center, with many supporting and spinoff technical businesses.

She created the Dr. Mae C. Jemison Grant Program= to work with institutions serving minorities to bring more women of color in the field of space and aeronautics, and received the National Technical Association (NTA) of Scientists and Engineers honored the Congresswoman with its Top Women in the Sciences Award.

Homeland security

In her op-ed article of 1 January 2010 in the Houston Chronicle, she recommends more investment in security. She criticized the Senate holding up the confirmation of a Transportation Security Administration director, Erroll Southers. ". I will request more funds for behavioral assessment of suspected terrorists that is not stigmatizing, racial profiling or profiling on the basis of national origin or religious background, which I oppose. A behavioral assessment strategy would have helped us avoid the tragic incident at Fort Hood...The actions of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab were red flags and should have established him as a suspected terrorist. Though he was on a watch list, he should have immediately been moved to the no-fly list. The government also needs to break down the so-called “stovepipe” collection of intelligence. This was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. That intelligence information was not properly shared between security agencies."[4] While she did not refer to him by name, the hold on Southers is by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina).

She held a hearing December 16, 2009, to examine a recent security breach by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in which sensitive details of passenger screening were accidentally posted to the TSA website. “Importantly, TSA, has indicated that it has begun a full review of the incident,” wrote the Congresswoman. “Nevertheless, we recommend that TSA engage a third party government agency to conduct a review of this incident” and offer recommendations to avoid a similar security breach. [5]

Committees

Before Congress

She defeated Craig Anthony Washington, an incumbent Democrat, in the 1994 primary.[6]

Before her election to Congress, Congresswoman Jackson Lee served two terms as one of the first African American women At-Large members of the Houston City Council, where she chaired the first Human Relations Committee, along with the Airport and Cable Committees. Prior to her Council service, she was an Associate Municipal Court Judge for the City of Houston. She was a staff counselor, U.S. House Select Assassinations Committee (1977–78).

Caucuses and groups

Education

  • B.A. in Political Science from Yale University with honors
  • J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School.

Personal

Congresswoman Jackson Lee is married to Dr. Elwyn C. Lee, who holds a dual position of Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Houston System and the University of Houston, respectively.

References

  1. Biography, Office of Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, U.S. House of Representatives
  2. Joe Holley (4 January 2010), "Johnson looking to unseat Jackson Lee in Congress", Houston Chronicle
  3. "War Powers Debated in Suit", Associated Press, 21 February 2003
  4. Sheila Jackson-Lee (1 January 2010), "Toward a more secure America", Houston Chronicle
  5. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee to Chair Hearing on TSA Security Breach, 9 December 2009
  6. Craig Anthony Washington, Representative, 1989–1995, Democrat from Texas, Black Americans in Congress