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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

Aug 28, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC – Yesterday, Congressman Walter Jones, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Jim McGovern sent a letter to Speaker Boehner calling for debate and vote on an authorization for the use of military force in Iraq when the House returns on September 8th.

Aug 15, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lee (D-CA), Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) and Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) sent President Obama a bipartisan letter reiterating their call for him to come to Congress for authorization of any further use of military force in Iraq.

The letter was sent in response to recent news that the U.S. has sent additional military personnel to Iraq and the President’s reference to U.S. involvement as a “long-term project.” 

Aug 11, 2014 In The News

The president's expansion of the U.S. military mission in Iraq is conjuring up two dirty little words for anti-war Democrats: Mission creep. 

Just two months ago, when Obama announced he was going to send up to 300 American troops to Iraq, he emphasized that they would only have an advisory, non-combat role.

On Friday, however, U.S. fighters bombed terrorist targets in northern Iraq. Hours before, the president had announced he was authorizing such strikes as well as the airdropping of aid to Iraqi refugees stranded on a mountaintop.

Aug 10, 2014 In The News

President Barack Obama is pitching airstrikes in Iraq as a moral imperative, but some members of his own party on Capitol Hill aren’t sold.
Liberal Democrats fear the targeted airstrikes could ultimately spiral into the kind of deep military entanglement that Obama pledged to unwind when he ran for president. And while they aren’t in open revolt, the apprehension suggests Obama might not have much cover in Congress if the operation proves not to be as limited as he hopes.

Aug 8, 2014 In The News

WASHINGTON — President Obama drew bipartisan support on Friday from members of Congress for his decision to authorize military strikes in Iraq, but the backing was tempered with substantial concern — including within Mr. Obama’s own party — about his strategy for the operation.

Republicans suggested that the administration had acted too slowly and timidly to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and now was moving too cautiously against the group. Some said he should not rule out ground troops.

Aug 8, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Lee issued this statement upon receiving news of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq:

Aug 8, 2014 In The News

U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize air strikes in northern Iraq triggered few complaints he acted without congressional consent — a surprising acquiescence lawmakers made clear could change abruptly change if the mission expands.

Aug 7, 2014 Op Eds and Blog

This week, the first and largest U.S.-Africa summit is underway in Washington D.C.

Building on President Barack Obama's 2013 trip to Africa, the summit reaffirms what is becoming increasingly apparent to more business and policy leaders every day: that the African continent is a fundamental part of our interconnected world and global economy - Africa matters.

In today's global world, what happens in one place can have an immediate impact on the opposite corner of the globe.

Jul 29, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5),  Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (NY-16), Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10), Rep. Michael Capuano (MA-7), and Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10) introduced H. Res. 689 yesterday. The resolution supports efforts to end the conflict in South Sudan and encourages greater engagement to alleviate the humanitarian crisis there.

Jul 29, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced legislation to re-authorize U.S. participation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Congresswoman Lee is one of two U.S. House of Representative representatives to the United Nations.