Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a forceful and progressive voice in Congress, dedicated to social and economic justice, international peace, and civil and human rights.
First elected in 1998 to represent California’s 9th Congressional District, the Democratic lawmaker has established a reputation for principled and independent stands, unafraid to take on the tough issues and speak her mind for her constituents, for a more just America, and for a safer world. As a social worker by profession, being an advocate for people in dealing with the federal bureaucracy has been a priority.
She has aggressively represented the needs of the underserved and vulnerable people in her district and throughout the U.S., vigorously advocating for a wide range of social and economic concerns and bread and butter issues that affect their daily lives. She has earned a reputation as an effective legislator who works in a bipartisan manner to achieve results in congressional committees. In 2008, she authored a book about her life experiences.
The Congresswoman has been a strong proponent of safe communities, affordable housing, the homeless, low income energy assistance, job training, making health care affordable and universal, just immigration policies, the establishment of a living wage, and protection of the right of women to make decisions about their reproductive health. She is the immediate past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and former co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.
Her accomplishments are many, including authoring or co-authoring every major piece of legislation dealing with global HIV/AIDS issues since she was elected to Congress. This includes legislation that created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the position of Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. She has secured millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS prevention, education, treatment and care services in Alameda County.
An early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, the congresswoman repeatedly proposed legislation seeking early U.S. troop withdrawal. In 2007, she successfully blocked funds from being used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq. Her 2008 amendment requiring that any U.S. agreement to defend Iraq be expressly authorized by Congress or be included in a Senate approved treaty was stripped from a defense bill under the threat of a veto by President Bush.
Congresswoman Lee has been a leader in the bipartisan effort in Congress to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, including the passage of legislation she authored to allow divestment from companies doing business in the region.
The congresswoman has worked tirelessly to strengthen relations between the United States and its Caribbean neighbors, promoting engagement and dialogue through educational exchange programs, travel, and fair trade, including the ending of the ineffective embargo against Cuba. In 2005, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize along with women from 150 countries as part of the international project – 1000 Women for Peace.
Congresswoman Lee began her political career as an intern in the office of her predecessor, former Congressman and former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, where she eventually became his Chief of Staff. Before being elected to Congress, she served in the California State Assembly and in the California State Senate.
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