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Jackson Lee reveals cancer, expects to miss votes in divided chamber

Texas Democrat won House primary after vying for mayor of Houston and losing runoff

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, revealed she is being treated for pancreatic cancer.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, revealed she is being treated for pancreatic cancer. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee says she’ll continue her work in Congress while undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

The 74-year-old Democrat from Texas disclosed her diagnosis Sunday night and said she may occasionally miss votes. 

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

Jackson Lee is the latest member of the House to face a health crisis that could affect attendance in the closely-divided chamber. With the expected arrival this week of Vince Fong, winner of a May 21 special election in California, Republicans will have a 218-213 advantage in the chamber, and there is a special election next week in another heavily Republican district with an open seat.

Earlier this year Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, left the hospital following surgery and came to the chamber in medical togs to vote in February against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., missed considerable time in Washington while undergoing treatment for blood cancer.

In her statement, Jackson Lee did not mention her bid for reelection to the 18th District, in which she is heavily favored. The district as currently configured would have backed Joe Biden over Donald Trump by 49 percentage points in 2020.

Jackson Lee, who has held the Houston-based seat for 15 terms, ran for mayor of the city last year, but lost a runoff to fellow Democrat John Whitmire in December. She filed to run for reelection and won the March primary against attorney Amanda Edwards. Jackson Lee will face Republican Lana Centonze in November.

In her statement, Jackson Lee told residents of the 18th District her office “will continue to deliver the vital constituent services that you deserve and expect.”

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