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Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Representing the 13th District of California

Global Peace & Security

As a leading voice in Congress for global peace and security and international cooperation, Congresswoman Lee has advocated for policies that reduce conflict, end war, and address the conditions that spark violence.

Congresswoman Lee is dedicated to finding peaceful alternatives to military intervention. Days after the 9/11 attacks, she cast the lone dissenting vote in both houses of Congress against authorizing President Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against anyone associated with the attacks. Congresswoman Lee remarked at the time that she viewed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force to be a “blank check” for the executive branch to use military force.  In the years since that vote of conscience, Congresswoman Lee has been joined by hundreds of her peers in Congress in votes to limit the executive branch’s use of military force.Rep. Lee at UN

Congresswoman Lee has also argued for ending America’s state of perpetual war and reigning in the military-industrial complex. She spearheaded efforts to bring combat troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and ensure no permanent military bases were established in either country, and is a leading voice in promoting diplomatic alternatives to war with Iran and Syria. Congresswoman Lee opposes wasteful Pentagon spending and has advocated for modernizing the military with increased funding for programs that protect our nation’s ports and keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.

Priorities:

  • Repealing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force: In the dozen years since Congresswoman Lee cast the only vote in opposition to the AUMF, many of her colleagues have joined her attempts to repeal this misguided legislation. To that end, she is the author of H.R. 198, the Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
  • Reining in the Bloated Pentagon Budget: Congresswoman Lee finds it deeply shameful that the government wastes billions of dollars on unwanted Pentagon programs. Currently, the Department of Defense is the only federal department not subject to audit. Congresswoman Lee has introduced amendments which would audit the Pentagon and hold the Department of Defense accountable for its excessive spending and reign in fraud, waste, and abuse.  She is also the author H.R. 559, the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013.
  • Establishing the Department of Peacebuilding: Congresswoman Lee has introduced legislation in the 113th Congress, H.R. 808, to create a Department of Peacebuilding. Nationally and internationally, this bill would target the culture of violence pervading our society and invest in programs promoting violence reduction and conflict management, as well as create a cabinet-level secretary of peace building. 
  • Addressing Humanitarian Crises Around the World: Congresswoman Lee has spearheaded Congressional responses to humanitarian disasters such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the famine in the Horn of Africa, as well as the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan.  She has also supported measures to provide much needed humanitarian aid to victims of the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
  • Leading the Opposition to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Congresswoman Lee has opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since day one. In 2002, she attempted to avert war with Iraq by introducing an amendment allowing inspectors to certify that there were no weapons of mass destruction.  After the invasion, Congresswoman Lee spearheaded congressional opposition to establishing permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is past time that we bring our service men and women home from war, which is why Congresswoman Lee has introduced H.R. 200, The Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act. This bipartisan bill would provide funding for the orderly removal of American combat troops from Afghanistan.Congresswoman Lee with South African President Nelson Mandela
  • Opposing Military Strikes in Syria: Congresswoman Lee strongly opposed military intervention in the Syrian conflict in response to President Bashar Al-Assad’s heinous use of chemical weapons against his own people. Rather than pursuing a military response which could result in further loss of innocent lives, Rep. Lee supports humanitarian and diplomatic solutions which would prevent these atrocities.
  • Crafting a Diplomatic Solution to Iran’s Nuclear Threat: Congresswoman Lee has introduced H.R. 783, the Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act. This straightforward legislation directs the president to appoint a Special Envoy for Iran to pursue comprehensive and sustained negotiations. She supports the negotiated deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program, and strongly opposes any new sanctions that could undermine these negotiations.
  • Finding a Two-State Solution to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: The Congresswoman is committed to maintaining the long-standing friendship between the U.S. and Israel and working with all parties to find an acceptable two-state solution which recognizes both Israel and Palestine’s sovereignty. In 2013, Congresswoman Lee authored H. Res. 238, which expresses the sentiment of the U.S. House of Representatives supporting a lasting two-state solution, reaffirming Israel’s right to exist and promoting a Palestinian state that would meet the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for self-determination within their own nation. 
  • Bringing Transparency and Oversight to U.S. Drone Policy: Congresswoman Lee is concerned with the expansive use of drones by the U.S. government and the vague legal justifications for these targeted attacks. She has introduced the Drones Accountability Act, H.R. 2183,which would impose a moratorium on drone strikes until Congress has provided an effective oversight mechanism to ensure accountability.
  • Ending the Cuba Embargo: The 50-year-old Cuba embargo has been a foreign policy failure, damaging our economy and making it more difficult to strengthen diplomatic relations with our neighbor, Cuba. A majority of Americans agree that it’s time to forge a new, productive relationship with Cuba. Congresswoman Lee has been at the forefront of this issue, urging her colleagues in the House to support a new approach in our interactions with Cuba.

Accomplishments:

  • U.S. Representative to the United Nations: In the fall of 2013, President Obama recognized Congresswoman Lee’s leadership in the international community by nominating her to serve as a Representative of the United States to the Sixty-Eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
  • Fighting the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic: Congresswoman Barbara Lee has authored or coauthored every bill to combat global HIV/AIDS since being elected to Congress in 1998. In 2003, she worked with President Bush to craft the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), which is credited with providing life-saving treatment to more than 5 million people and providing testing and counseling for millions more. Congresswoman Lee was also a lead co-author on the 2008 reauthorization of the PEPFAR program, as well as the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2013. Through legislation like PEPFAR, Congress can stop preventable deaths and achieve an AIDS-free generation.
  • The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013:On January 12, 2010 a devastating 7.0 earthquake struck near Haiti’s capital. The earthquake killed an estimated 316,000, injured 300,000, and left over 1 million more homeless. The U.S. government, the American public, and the international community responded with a tremendous outpouring of support for the Haitian people. However, what began as a swift and effective relief effort gave way to a sluggish reconstruction.   A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that USAID has missed a number of its own goals and deadlines. Most importantly, the GAO found that as of June, 2013 USAID had committed only 52%, and disbursed 35%, of the $651 million in funding for earthquake reconstruction. Congresswoman Lee’s bill, The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013 (H.R. 3509), which passed the House of Representatives in December 2013, would require the State Department to produce reports on the progress of infrastructure projects, indicators used to measure project success, measures taken to strengthen Haitian capacity, and many other important benchmarks. With so much money yet to be disbursed, this bill seizes the opportunity to ensure that U.S. assistance to Haiti is as effective as possible.
  • Divesting from Darfur: Congresswoman Lee travelled to Darfur three times to help bring the world’s attention to the horrific genocide taking place. She sponsored legislation recognizing acts of genocide in the region, calling for divestment from Sudan, and urging China and the Arab League to help stop the violence. Divestment is a form of economic boycott which encourages institutions to adopt socially responsible practices. In 2008, Congresswoman Lee’s Darfur divestment legislation was signed into law by President Bush.

More on Global Peace & Security

Oct 21, 2014 In The News

Throughout the three-plus years of the Syrian civil war, one oft-sung refrain among some American officials has been that arming Syrian moderates (whoever they may be) is a dicey proposition because the weapons "could fall into the wrong hands."

Despite these objections, the United States eventually sent military aid to the Free Syrian Army last year. The policy change was precipitated by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's violation of the Obama administration's "red line" after the regime used chemical weapons against civilians.

Oct 20, 2014 In The News

Washington (CNN) -- As newly picked Ebola czar Ron Klain gets started, some are wondering if America could also use a new surgeon general.

As Republicans criticize the Obama administration's appointment of Klain, Democrats are intensifying their push for a vote on the delayed nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy for surgeon general.

Oct 17, 2014 Press Release

Oakland, CA – After meeting with local, state and federal public health officials and stakeholders on the U.S. response to Ebola and overall public health preparedness in the California’s 13th Congressional district, Congresswoman Barbara released this statement: 

Oct 16, 2014 In The News

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is calling for appropriators to “return to Washington immediately” to approve additional funding for the Ebola response.

Pelosi said the House Appropriations Committee must quickly “convene hearings to discuss and debate the issue of funding levels” for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a statement Thursday.

Oct 16, 2014 In The News

The commander in charge of the U.S. response to Ebola in Africa said Thursday that 65 U.S. uniformed personnel would soon staff a 25-bed hospital in Monrovia that will directly treat Liberian healthcare workers if they are infected. 

"They will actually be involved in the care and feeding of health care workers who have been infected with the Ebola virus," said Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of Operation United Assistance Joint Force, at a Pentagon briefing Thursday. 

Oct 15, 2014 In The News

House Democrats who oversee the funding of agencies involved in the Ebola response said Wednesday it’s “unacceptable” their panel’s top Republican won’t call a hearing to evaluate resources on the ground.

"As we mourn the death of Thomas Eric Duncan and pray for the two health care workers infected in Dallas, we reiterate our call for Chairman [Jack] Kingston to convene our subcommittee immediately," Democrats on the House Appropriations Health subcommittee said in a joint statement.

Oct 15, 2014 In The News

A trio of House Democrats is calling on President Obama to allow U.S. troops in West Africa to provide direct care to Ebola patients. 

The Obama administration has already committed around 4,000 U.S. troops to help fight Ebola in the affected West African countries, but they are performing tasks such as building treatment centers and training local providers, not directly providing care.

Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.), Karen Bass (Calif.), and Barbara Lee (Calif.) want to change that. 

Oct 6, 2014 In The News

Washington (AFP) - The US military has started flying attack helicopters against Islamic State militants in Iraq for the first time, officials said Monday, marking an escalation in the air war that puts American troops at higher risk.

US Central Command, which is overseeing the air campaign in Iraq and Syria, said helicopters took part in strikes on Sunday and Monday in Iraq, at a time when Iraqi government forces are struggling against IS fighters in the country's west.

Sep 30, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) joined CPC Peace and Security Task Force Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan after the United States signed a bilateral security agreement with the Afghan government in Kabul today that allows the United States to keep troops and tie up taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan for the next decade.

Sep 23, 2014 Press Release

Oakland, CA – In response to the airstrikes last night in Syria, Congresswoman Lee released this statement:

"I am gravely concerned about the expansion of U.S. airstrikes into Syria and continuation of airstrikes in Iraq.

It is clear we are rapidly becoming more involved in another war in the Middle East.