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Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Announces Cancer Diagnosis

The Democrat warned that she is 'likely' to be absent from the House while undergoing treatment

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Announces Cancer Diagnosis

Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee of Texas has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The Democrat announced on June 2 that she is currently being treated for the illness.

“I am confident that my doctors have developed the best possible plan to target my specific disease,” Jackson Lee said in a press release. “The road ahead will not be easy, but I stand in faith that God will strengthen me.”

“As I pursue my treatments, it is likely that I will be occasionally absent from Congress, but rest assured my office will continue to deliver the vital constituent services that you deserve and expect,” the congresswoman added.

“I am committed to working with our Congressional Leadership including Leader Hakeem Jeffries and the Speaker of House to serve this nation and be present for votes on legislation that is critical for the prosperity and security of the American people," said Jackson Lee. "By God's grace, I will be back at full strength soon."

The 74-year-old was first elected in 1995 and has been in office for more the 30 years.

Jackson Lee is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Homeland Security Committee, and the House Budget Committee. Some of her major legislative initiatives include the George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act, the Sentencing Reform Act, and the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Reauthorization and Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act.

Jackson Lee won her most competitive primary election in March when she defeated former Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards.

Prior to the March primary, Jackson Lee had only drawn four primary challengers, and she defeated all of them by significant margins,” according to the Texas Tribune. Jackson Lee opted to run for reelection after unsuccessfully campaigning to be the mayor of Houston. 

Currently, there are 213 Democrats and 217 Republicans in the House. The narrow margin has led to tense votes in the last year, particularly when Republicans do not share a unanimous opinion.

Jackson Lee’s announcement comes toughy two weeks after Congressman Greg Murphy announced his doctors had discovered a benign skull tumor known as a pituitary macroadenoma. The congressman said he would undergo surgery to remove the tumor and that his prognosis was excellent. 

“I hope to be back to work full-time soon. I am, as are all things, in the hands of God and am at absolute peace,” the Republican told his constituents in a press release.

Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. of New Jersey died in late April, several weeks after having a heart attack. The Democrat’s staff remains on the House payroll under the supervision of Acting Clerk of The House Kevin F. McCumber. Payne’s staff will “undertake constituent casework, to help in handling business with the departments of the executive branch of the government, to provide general status information on pending legislation and to offer other general constituent services provided by House offices,” according to the Clerk’s Office.

Payne’s death marks the lone vacancy during the current congress.

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