Barbara Lee

The only member of congress to vote against the AUMF in 2001, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus 

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"Barbara Lee is the U.S. Representative for California's 13th congressional district, serving since 1998; until 2013 the region was designated California's 9th congressional district. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She was the first woman to represent the 9th district and is also the first woman to represent the 13th district. Lee was the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Lee is notable as the only member of either chamber of Congress to vote against the authorization of use of force following the September 11, 2001 attacks. This made her a hero among many in the anti-war movement. Lee has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and supports legislation creating a Department of Peace.

 

As president of the Mills College Black Student Union, Lee invited Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm to speak on campus and went on to work on Chisolm's 1972 presidential campaign, serving as her delegate at the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Also as a student, she was a volunteer at the Oakland chapter of the Black Panther Party's Community Learning Center and worked on Panther co-founder Bobby Seale's 1973 Oakland mayoral campaign. Lee was a staff member for United States Representative Ron Dellums and a member of the California State Assembly and the California State Senate before entering the House. She ran for Congress in a special election that created a year-long series of five special elections as various East Bay politicians vied for political office…

 

Lee gained national attention in 2001 as the only member of congress to vote "No" on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), stating that she voted no not because she opposed military action but because she believed the AUMF, as written, granted overly-broad powers to wage war to the president at a time when the facts regarding the situation were not yet clear. She "warned her colleagues to be 'careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.'" Lee explained, "It was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the September 11 events—anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation's long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit. In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration.... The president has the constitutional authority to protect the nation from further attack, and he has mobilized the armed forces to do just that. The Congress should have waited for the facts to be presented and then acted with fuller knowledge of the consequences of our action."

 

This vote made nationwide news reports and brought about a large and extremely polarized response, with the volume of calls gridlocking the switchboard of her Capitol Hill office. Although it appears to have reflected the beliefs of the majority of her constituents, the majority of responses from elsewhere in the nation were angry and hostile, some referring to her as "communist" and "traitor". Many of the responses included death threats against her or her family to the point that the Capitol Police provided round-the-clock plainclothes bodyguards. She was also criticized by politicians and in editorial pages of conservative-leaning newspapers, e.g. John Fund's column in The Wall Street Journal. She was awarded the Seán MacBride Peace Prize by the International Peace Bureau in 2002 for that vote.

 

Political Opinions

 

Lee's opposition to the death penalty was recognized in 2002 by Death Penalty Focus, when they presented her with the Mario Cuomo Act of Courage Award…

 

Lee is the author of the Shirley A. Chisholm United States-Caribbean Educational Exchange Act, which would enhance U.S. foreign relations with CARICOM nations… The bill is named for former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who helped inspire Lee to become involved in politics when Chisholm ran for the Democratic nomination for President; Lee became the Northern California Chair of the Chisholm campaign.

 

On September 29, 2008, Lee was one of 95 Democrats to vote against the defeated Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. However, she voted for a modified version on October 3.

 

Lee was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which places restrictions on health insurance plans providing coverage for abortions in the context of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

 

As a congresswoman for the Bay Area, Barbara Lee has made affordable housing in East Bay area and beyond a top priority. Lee has supported and backed legislation meant to expand home ownership opportunities, improve public housing quality, and assist the homeless.

 

On March 15, 2013, Lee announced the official relaunch of the Congressional Social Work Caucus to the 113th Congress as the new chairwoman of the social work caucus." (1)

From Wikipedia