01.08.15

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Starts 114th Congress By Working to Address Poverty, Enhance U.S. International Engagement, Help America’s Veterans and Families and Protect Patient’s Access to Care

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced eight bills to address poverty, enhance U.S. international engagement, help America’s veterans and families and protect patient’s access to care.

“I am honored and humbled to serve as the representative of California’s 13th Congressional District.  It is a privilege to be entrusted by my constituents to represent them, fight for our shared progressive values and bring their ideas to Washington,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Too many American families are still living with the day-to-day realities of poverty while others are struggling to find work, care for aging relatives and access critical healthcare. The bills I am introducing today would help American families, enhance our international status and grow our economy.”

To address poverty, Congresswoman Lee has re-introduced the Half in Ten Act. This bill establishes a national inter-agency task force to develop a national strategy to halve poverty in America over the next decade.

“More than 45 million Americans live in poverty. In the richest country in the world, this is unacceptable. We need to establish goals and a national strategy to address and eliminate poverty in America,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The Half in Ten Act is a small, but important, step towards lifting American families out of poverty and into the middle class.”

In order to support U.S. participation in the international community, Congresswoman Lee introduced two pieces of legislation. One resolution calling for U.S. foreign assistance to total one percent of GDP and another bill authorizes U.S. participation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU.)

“The Inter-Parliamentary Union is a vital venue for the promotion of freedom, human rights and strong democratic institutions at the global level,” said Congresswoman Lee. “As the founding member and long-time participant, the U.S. must rejoin this important body which has worked to promote our core values while  building a world that promotes peace and respects human rights for all.”

“My legislation expressing the sense of Congress that U.S. foreign assistance should total at least one percent of GDP, recognizes the importance of foreign assistance programs in promoting our national security, while demonstrating the American people's humanitarian spirit and improving U.S. credibility in world affairs,” said Congresswoman Lee.

To put Americans veterans to work building our nation’s green energy future, Congresswoman Lee re-introduced the INVEST Act.  The INVEST Act would provide a tax credit to companies in the renewable energy sector for hiring America’s veterans. The most recent statistics from the Labor Department showed that unemployment amongst America’s post-9/11 veterans was 6.9 percent, significantly higher than the national unemployment rate.

“As a nation we should INVEST in our veterans and our sustainable energy future – it’s a win-win. Our veterans leave the armed forces with advanced technology expertise. We should reward those companies that hire these veterans to build a sustainable energy future,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Providing a tax credit is a small step with huge implications for creating good-paying jobs for our veterans while encouraging the development of sustainable energy technologies.”

To protect patient access to medication, Congresswoman Lee introduced the States Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act to prevent federal overreach that would restrict access to medicine.

“The federal government should never get in between patients and their medicine,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

To assist older Americans and their families, Congresswoman Lee introduced the Elder Care Tax Credit Act and the Adult Day Center Enhancement Act.

The Elder Care Tax Credit would establish a tax credit for families caring for aging families members.

“As Americans live longer, more and more families are responsible for both young children and parents aging in place,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This ‘sandwich generation’ shoulders a heavy financial burden. This bill will give families more financial flexibility as they juggle work and care-giving responsibilities for aging relatives.”

The Adult Day Center Enhancement Act will expand and enhance adult day programs that provide care and support for those living with neurological diseases and disorders. This measure is endorsed by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“Adult day programs provide a critical source of support for those living with neurological diseases and disorders. This bill would ensure that these vital programs are strengthened while ensuring that the needs of young adults and veterans are met,” said Congresswoman Lee. “We must ensure that individuals suffering from MS, Parkinson’s, TBI and other similar neurological diseases or conditions and their families can continue to live their lives with dignity.”

Congresswoman Lee also introduced the Peace Stamp for the Peace Corps Act to create a postal stamp in honor of the great work of the Peace Corps.

“Peace Corps and its volunteers do amazing work supporting the world’s most underserved populations,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Honoring their extraordinary work with a stamp is one small step to show the gratitude of a thankful nation and support the Peace Corps continued success.”

Finally, Congresswoman Lee introduced a Congressional resolution recognizing the 5th anniversary of the Haitian earthquake.

“Following the tragic earthquake in 2010, the American people generously and selflessly reached out to our Haitian neighbors to provide support and comfort,’ said Congresswoman Lee. “I am glad the 113th Congress passed my bill and President Obama signed the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act into law. This legislation ensures the most effective use of U.S. assistance to Haiti while building long-term sustainable local capacity and a strong civil society.”

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.