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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

Sep 19, 2014 In The News

The Obama walkback has become a familiar dance step in Washington these last six years.

First, President Barack Obama makes a promise or a threat. Close Guantanamo Bay in a year, retaliate against Syrian chemical attacks on civilians, take executive action to legalize millions of undocumented workers by the end of this month.

Then, when criticism and reality set in, he changes course.

Sep 19, 2014 In The News

Lawmakers' votes this week on whether or not to train and equip Syrian opposition forces in the fight against Islamic State were arguably the most consequential after nearly two years in which Congress is likely to set a new low for productivity.

But more than that, the initial decision Congress faced on President Obama's new mission to take out the militant threat represented the first significant opportunity for a big majority of both houses to decide an issue of war, a factor that was evident as the debate unfolded in the last week.

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Sep 18, 2014 In The News

Washington -- Almost 12 years after approving the invasion of Iraq, the House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to grant President Obama authority to combat the latest offshoot of that war, the militant group known as the Islamic State.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco led Democrats in supporting the request, overcoming minority opposition from both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who questioned the strategy of arming Syrian groups of dubious loyalties to fight Islamic State forces. The House approved the measure, 273-156.

Sep 17, 2014 In The News

Despite warnings from war-weary opponents on both sides of the aisle, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House voted Wednesday to give President Barack Obama authorization to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels to combat ISIS militants.

The vote was 273 in favor of the measure, 156 against. Seventy-one Republicans and 85 Democrats voted no.

Both House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi backed the move, which Obama and his top advisers lobbied for with personal calls to dozens of lawmakers.3

Sep 17, 2014 In The News

WASHINGTON — An unusual but overwhelming coalition in the House voted Wednesday to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront the militant Islamic State, backing President Obama after he personally pleaded for support.

The 273-to-156 vote was over a narrow military measure with no money attached, but it took on outsize importance and was infused with drama, reflecting the tension and ambiguity of members wary of the ultimate path to which any war vote could lead.

Sep 16, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Lee recently spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives against arming Syrian rebel groups.

“I am totally disappointed that the debate on something that could have such broad implications on the United States’ national security and the region is being included as an amendment to the Continuing Resolution (CR).

Sep 14, 2014 In The News

OAKLAND, Calif.—The people here were out of step with America.

Sep 11, 2014 In The News

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Let's work through the ways President Obama says he plans to expand the U.S. fight against the so-called Islamic State. The president told the nation last night he aims for the destruction of the group that controls parts of Iraq and Syria and that strategy includes expanding airstrikes in Iraq. The U.S. will also increase its involvement in the civil war in Syria and airstrikes are possible on that side of the border.

NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith reports.

Sep 10, 2014 In The News

Buried in the data from the much-hyped CNN poll that suggested Americans were “alarmed” by the actions of the the ISIL, and that they feel “increasingly concerned” that ISIL could pose a threat to the United States, were two key details:

1. Americans want limits placed on the US military response to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and to the broader political challenges that have developed in those countries. For instance, a majority of Americans, 61 percent of Americans oppose placing US troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

Sep 10, 2014 Press Release

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Lee released this statement following President Obama’s address to the nation regarding the Administration’s strategy to combat ISIS:

“Today, the President laid out his comprehensive strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS and his case for the expansion of military action in Iraq and Syria.

The Constitution requires Congress to vote on the use of military force. This is not about this President. This is about any President and any Congress.

We must re-establish the checks and balances laid out by the Constitution.